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Afghan starts to close private security firms
HEIDI VOGT and RAHIM FAIEZ (AP) – KABUL, Afghanistan – October 3, 2010 – The Afghan government said Sunday it has started dissolving private security firms in the country by taking steps to end the operations of eight companies, including the firm formerly known as Blackwater and three other large international contractors.
“We have very good news for the Afghan people today,” presidential spokesman Waheed Omar told reporters in the capital. “The disbanding of eight private security firms has started.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced in August that private security contractors would have to cease operations by the end of the year — wiping out an industry with tens of thousands of guards who protect military convoys, government officials and businesspeople.
Some security contractors have been criticized for operating more like private militias, and the government said it could not have armed groups that were independent of the police or military forces.
The eight companies that have begun the process include Xe Services — the North Carolina contractor formerly called Blackwater — Virginia-based NCL Holdings LLC, New Mexico-based Four Horsemen International and London-based Compass International, Omar said. Two large Afghan firms, White Eagle Security Services and Abdul Khaliq Achakza, are also on the list. The remaining two companies are small operations with fewer than 100 employees, so he declined to name them. (Click HERE for article)
Ex-Laguna Construction Worker Pleads
Scott Sandlin – Albuquerque Journal – October 2, 2010 – An employee of the New Mexico-based Laguna Construction Co. admitted demanding and getting $847,904 in kickbacks from the company’s subcontractors on multiple projects in Iraq, according to the plea he entered Friday in U.S. District Court in Houston.
Ismael “Mike” Salinas, of Odessa, Texas, says in court documents that he caused Laguna to submit kickback-inflated billings from its New Mexico headquarters to the Air Force Center for Engineering and Environment, a support agency in the Defense Department.
No Afghan trip for 2 ex-Blackwater defendants
NORFOLK – July 31, 2010 – A federal judge said Friday he will allow a videotaped deposition of an Afghan doctor in the murder case against two former Blackwater security guards. Siding with the government, he ruled against sending the defendants to Afghanistan for the testimony.
The former Blackwater workers, Christopher Drotleff of Virginia Beach and Justin Cannon of Corpus Christi, Texas, are charged with killing two Afghan citizens and wounding a third after a traffic accident in Kabul in May 2009.
The government contends the two left an Army base without permission and had been drinking that day. Drotleff and Cannon say they fired in self-defense when the Afghans charged at them in a vehicle. (Click HERE for article)
Court rules man has paid restitution
Lynne Hendricks – July 31, 2010 – AMESBURY — A U.S. District Court judge ruled this week that Amesbury resident Paul Arguin, 47, has satisfied his restitution to the U.S. government and should not be liable for the full $3.2 million he was sentenced to pay after pleading guilty to charges of fraud while a consultant for the Air Force.
The former longtime School Committee member has turned over approximately $700,000 to $800,000 in restitution to date, according to the indictment. According to a judge considering Arguin’s request to deem the debt satisfied, that amount is sufficient to compensate the government, given it received a $15 million settlement from Arguin’s employer Dynamic Research Corporations in a related civil suit.
Arguin served a five-year jail sentence for improperly profiting from a U.S. Air Force contract by setting up corporations to sell and resell computer storage devices to the government and directing the business to corporations he and his boss had interests in, according to the indictment.
Arguin and his boss, Victor J. Garber, 63, formerly of North Andover were indicted in 2000, charged with 49 counts of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, wire fraud and aiding and abetting in violation of U.S. law, among other charges. It was asserted the two used their positions as technology consultants to the Air Force employed by defense contractor DRC to divert government procurement funds for personal use. (Click HERE for article)
Some sex is now out, other sex is still in at David Brooks’ trial.
May 11, 2010 by ROBERT E. KESSLER
A federal judge in Central Islip ruled Tuesday that she will order the jury to disregard testimony about Brooks’ purchasing several thousand dollars worth of adult videos over online cable for his son.
But U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert also recently ruled she will continue to allow in other previous testimony about Brooks’ using up to $9,000 at a time from his former Westbury body armor company, DHB Industries, to pay for prostitutes for himself, some employees and board members.
Seybert’s rulings were in response to motions by Brooks’ defense attorneys that the introduction of such “salacious” material was highly prejudicial. Brooks is accused of illegally getting DHB to pay for about $6 million in personal expenses and operating a stock scheme that made him $185 million.