How an Unqualified Sex Worker Allegedly Infiltrated a Top Air Force Lab

·9 min read
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty
Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty

A senior research scientist working on advanced propulsion technologies for the U.S. Air Force duped a contractor into hiring an unqualified sex worker he had paid using a government charge card because he thought she was “really hot,” according to the feds.

The man then allegedly threatened to kill the sex worker’s supervisor and himself when the scheme fell apart—but not before shifting the bulk of the project’s funding elsewhere to pay for her salary at a different defense firm.

That’s according to a newly unsealed search warrant application obtained by The Daily Beast, which accuses Dr. James Gord, a highly decorated civilian Air Force employee, of installing the 32-year-old sex worker on a highly technical research project even though she did not have a college degree or any expertise in the field.

The woman “did not fully understand how to use basic word processing…software,” and “struggled to formulate coherent interoffice emails,” the warrant states. In 2019, Gord tapped the woman to co-chair a scientific panel for unsuspecting photonics researchers designing turbine engines, detonation engines, scramjets, and rockets.

No charges had yet been filed against Gord prior to his death last September of unspecified causes. The woman, whose identity The Daily Beast is withholding, has not been charged with a crime either, according to court records. She did not respond to voicemails left at a number listed under her name, or to an email seeking comment on Monday.

The warrant says Gord first came to the attention of Air Force investigators in March 2019, after the CEO and chief research scientist of a company that provided the Air Force Research Lab in Ohio with laser imaging for turbine engines reached out with a raft of highly troubling allegations.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Dr. James Gord.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">U.S. Air Force</div>

Dr. James Gord.

U.S. Air Force

The company, Spectral Energies, has received millions of dollars in government contracts and had been contracting for the lab, located on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, for the past 17 years, the warrant states. Spectral Energies CEO Sukesh Roy and Gord, who oversaw the technology Roy’s company supported and was responsible for doling out the contract’s funding, had become good friends during that period, according to the warrant.

But Roy had become alarmed by Gord’s behavior, and contacted the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), saying Gord “was engaging in unethical government contract negotiations, had communicated threats of violence, and was regularly soliciting prostitution while on the installation and while traveling on official U.S. Air Force business,” the warrant states.

In 2017, Gord, whose research the Air Force says “has produced myriad fundamental technology breakthroughs in burst-mode laser measurement systems that enable scientists and engineers to better understand the performance of real-world air breathing and rocket engines,” lost his father to suicide and “experienced extreme depression as a result,” the warrant explains.

“Shortly thereafter, in October 2017, Roy shared with Gord he was looking to hire an administrative technician at Spectral Energies,” says the warrant. “Gord recently met a young professional while on a flight to Washington, D.C…. and was very impressed with how she presented herself.”

Gord told Roy he thought she would be “a good fit” at Spectral, and gave Roy a copy of her resume, the warrant says. It said she was a certified EMT and firefighter with a biochemistry degree from the University of Tennessee, and had attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati.

“Gord highly encouraged Roy to hire [her], speaking highly of [her] technical expertise,” the warrant explains. “He then finished by stating, ‘She’s also really hot.’”

Roy hired her the following month, on Gord’s recommendation.

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However, Roy “quickly became frustrated with [her] lack of capability in the position,” according to the warrant.

“Over her first few months on the job, Roy stated [she] was not timely with her [expenses], did not fully understand how to use basic word processing and document creation software, and struggled to formulate coherent interoffice emails,” the warrant goes on. “[She] also failed to provide her college transcripts as requested.”

Roy then confronted Gord, who came clean and disclosed that she was “a prostitute he met in Cincinnati,” according to the warrant. Gord allegedly told Roy that he kept an Excel spreadsheet on his government-issued laptop with the names and details of various sex workers around the country he saw while on official trips for the Air Force. He didn’t want his wife or kids to know about his “relationships with these women,” and took out cash advances against his government travel card “so that the family finances were not visibly affected,” the warrant states.

Yet, Gord, who allegedly told Roy he paid the woman $400 an hour for her services, claimed to be in love with her and said she felt the same about him. Still, the woman “engaged in acts of prostitution” around Wright-Patterson with other scientists from the Air Force Research Laboratory, the warrant says. One, identified in the filing only as “Dr. I.K.,” paid the woman “approximately $20K a year to clean his residence in the nude and then perform oral sex on him,” according to the warrant.

I.K. was unable to be reached for comment.

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Although the woman had not gone past high school and lacked any knowledge whatsoever about the field, Gord allegedly urged Roy to more deeply involve her in the technical research Spectral Energies was performing under the contract Gord oversaw. He asked that her name be included as a contributor to future white papers, and told Roy that he wanted her to represent Spectral Energies on official trips, the warrant says.

Roy, who declined to discuss the case when contacted on Monday by The Daily Beast and hung up the phone when pressed for details, refused Gord’s demands. Not only was the woman lacking knowledge of the science, Roy told Gord that his relationship with her was unethical and asked him to “cease all contact” with her, the warrant says. This “angered Gord,” who abruptly stopped talking about the woman to Roy altogether.

Bothered by what was happening, Roy met with a lawyer to inquire about firing her but, according to the warrant, was told to wait until her one-year review to limit any potential liability.

But Gord found out and confronted Roy, allegedly telling him that if anyone found out about the “true nature of his relationship” with the woman, he would know Roy was responsible.

“Gord then stated he would come to Building 5 with one of his many guns to ‘end it all,’” the warrant says. “Roy perceived this to mean that Gord would kill Roy and then himself. During the conversation, Gord also reminded Roy, of Bangladeshi ethnicity, that Gord was a senior research scientist at AFRL, and that as Roy was an immigrant the ‘old boys club’ at AFRL would never believe Roy if he disclosed the information about a scientist as well respected as Gord.”

In October 2018, two weeks before Roy was set to fire her, the woman told Roy she was resigning to take a job at Spectral Energies’ main competitor, Innovative Scientific Solutions Incorporated (ISSI), the warrant says.

Around this same time, the Air Force Research Lab was set to renew a $250,000 research grant Spectral Energies. Gord was responsible for allocating the funds, the warrant states. But instead of the full $250,000, Spectral Energies only got $100,000 this time. So Roy asked the contracting office at Wright-Patterson AFB, which informed him that the grant had been split between Spectral Energies and ISSI, which got the remaining $150,000.

It was the first time in years that Gord didn’t allocate the full amount to Spectral Energies, the warrant states, adding, “The timing of Gord’s decision corresponded to [the woman’s] new position at ISSI.” Investigators later uncovered evidence in a search of Gord’s electronics, telling the woman that the funds would cover her salary at ISSI, according to the warrant.

<div class="inline-image__credit">U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio</div>
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio

Roy told investigators he then began to hear from colleagues around the industry that Gord was introducing the woman “around professional circles” as a research assistant and had arranged for her to chair a scientific panel, the warrant says.

On April Fool’s Day 2019, a pair of AFOSI special agents attempted to confirm the woman’s backstory. None of the schools on her resume had any record of her, the warrant states. About a week later, an AFOSI team armed with a search warrant raided Gord’s office at the Air Force Research Laboratory, seizing electronic devices as well as a box of Trojan condoms, a pair of women’s underwear, and an empty bottle of Viagra.

A search of Gord’s government email account turned up correspondence between him and the woman in which he described himself as her “mentor” and advised her on creating a believable “backstory,” the warrant alleges.

Gord told her to tell prospective employers that they met on a flight in 2017 when she noticed Gord working on his laptop. She was then to say she had withdrawn from medical school after a difficult divorce put a squeeze on her finances. Gord at one point referred to several meetings during which he taught her about the lab “and how to interact with scientists,” according to the warrant.

In one message, he shifted the conversation to “playtime,” the warrant states. He first asked her to “bring the ‘Screaming O,’” which the warrant says is “a request that [she] orgasm during sex,” then said that intimacy is very important to him.

In another, he allegedly said he would be comfortable meeting up after she was done servicing another client before discussing the organizational structure of the lab’s Combustion and Laser Diagnostics Research Complex.

In August 2019, AFOSI agents say they conducted a forensic review of Gord’s cellphone, discovering texts between Gord and some 27 sex workers in assorted U.S. cities. One, in which Gord and a female escort worked out the details of a rendezvous at a hotel in Chicago, allegedly occurred while Gord was on an official trip to the Argonne National Laboratory, which is focused on nuclear research. They also reviewed the spreadsheet Gord previously revealed to Roy, according to the warrant.

“Many of the 27 women listed on the Excel document were foreign nationals from countries considered U.S. National Security concerns,” it states.

The warrant was unsealed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and seeks access to Gord and the woman’s email accounts for evidence of false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims, embezzlement/misuse of government property, extortion of officers or employees of the United States, ethnic intimidation, and aggravated menacing.

The woman was being investigated on charges of prostitution near military and naval establishments, and false, fictitious, or fraudulent claims, according to the warrant.

The Air Force and Gord’s widow did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.

With additional reporting by Josh Fiallo.

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