BALTIMORE (AP) — The former chief operating officer of a Maryland-based federal contractor faces up to 23 years in prison for tax fraud and conspiring to steal from workers’ health and welfare plans.

U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said Thursday that 43-year-old Jonathan Mickle, of Asheville, North Carolina, pleaded guilty late Wednesday. He’ll be sentenced Nov. 3.

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Mickle worked from 2004 to 2012 for Quantell Inc. and Intaset Technologies Corp., headquartered in Carroll County with offices in Garrett County and elsewhere.

He acknowledged he misrepresented the firms as unaffiliated companies so they could bid on contracts meant to benefit small businesses.

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Mickle also acknowledged he conspired with company owners Shuan and Joanne Tucker in a scheme that diverted $1.6 million of employee benefit money from 250 workers.

The Tuckers’ trial is set for September.

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