A Houston, Texas, man has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of wire fraud in connection with a Lee's Summit man in a scheme that cost a metro area construction company about $840,000.

Brian Newkirk, 49, pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City, admitting that he made illegal kickbacks to 46-year-old John Kirwin of Lee's Summit, who had worked as a recruiter for J.E. Dunn Construction Company from 2013-16. Kirwin pleaded guilty to earlier this month to wire fraud and mail fraud, and another co-defendant, 53-year-old Debi Jordan of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

As a recruiter, Kirwin worked with outside employment agencies to locate and employ personnel for construction projects across the country. If the recruit was hired, Dunn paid a fee to the outside agencies. Kirwin hired three firms – two owned by Jordan and one owned by Newkirk – to locate employees, and as a salaried, non-commission employee Kirwin's contract prohibited him from receiving any benefits from outside vendors.

In the scheme, Kirwin submitted fraudulent invoices to Dunn from recruitment companies – invoices that included inflated amount or referenced employees Dunn never hired. When Dunn paid the companies, they divided proceeds from the fraudulent invoices with Kirwin.

Government officials believe Dunn lost about $840,000.

Newkirk faces up to 20 years in federal prison without parole. He will be sentenced at a later date, along with Kirwin and Jordan.