A guilty plea has been entered by a Masury man, one of five suspects who federal investigators say took part in schemes to defraud the Sharon-based non-profit Primary Health Network out of more than $2 million through sham contracts, inflated bids, and kickbacks.

According to online court records, Christopher O’Brien pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to commit wire or mail fraud.  Terms of the plea agreement remained sealed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh as of Wednesday.

O’Brien is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29.

A 17-count indictment handed up last May named O’Brien, along with former Primary Health Network CEO and CFO Drew Pierce of West Middlesex; former PHN facilities director Mark Marriott of Sharpsville; another former PHN CEO, John Laeng of West Middlesex, as well as John O’Brien of Masury.

The Primary Health Network, a private, non-profit organization that works with local communities to develop and implement a Community Health Center, boasts more than 150 physicians, dentists, physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners, and other health professionals, serving tens of thousands of patients in Pennsylvania.

According to the Indictment, the alleged fraud took place from 2011 through 2019 using among other entities, Topcoat Plus, a company described by investigators as a “purported” management firm owned by Marriott, Pierce, and Laeng.

Other companies that the government says were also operated by the three were allegedly involved in a plot involving submitting invoices to PHN for work that was never performed, or agreeing to pay inflated amounts for work that, if completed at all, would be performed by other companies at a lower cost.

John O’Brien, who controlled Masury-based telecommunications company Tele-Data, allegedly submitted an inflated bid to PHN for CCTV and data wiring installation at a health center in Lewiston, Pennsylvania.  Marriott, Pierce, and Laeng would pay O’Brien’s company less than was bid and O’Brien would pay kickbacks to Marriott, according to the indictment.

Christopher O’Brien, who owned Excel Construction of Masury, would allegedly enrich himself as well as Pierce and Marriott by charging PHN inflated amounts for general contracting.

In addition, the indictment alleged that Marriott and Pierce used PHN funds for personal expenses, including the installation of windows at Pierce’s private home, and allegedly used PHN employees on company time to perform labor at Pierce’s and Marriott’s homes.

Among the charges laid out in the 17-count indictment are Conspiracy to Commit Mail/Wire Fraud, Wire Fraud, Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, and Mail Fraud.

The remaining four defendants have all pleaded “not guilty” and await further court action.