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Funds for SIGIR, agency charged with oversight of Iraq reconstruction, set to expire in March

Ernesto Londoño – (The Washington Post) – January 19, 2013 – George Lee, a Kuwait-based U.S. defense contractor who was reaping millions as America’s quagmire in Iraq deepened, sent an e-mail to an Army major who awarded bids in Baghdad, warning her not to visit him.

“None of us want Uncle Sam, or anyone else, looking where they should not be looking,” he wrote in one of the trove of messages and intercepted phone calls that exposed the biggest fraud conspiracy from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So far, 22 people have been indicted and $67 million has been recovered in that single scheme, which remains under investigation.

But the little-known agency that uncovered the scam is about to close its doors, even though Lee remains a fugitive and 91 additional criminal investigations into the disappearance of Iraq reconstruction funds remain unsolved. Read the remainder of this entry »

Two more indictments unsealed in the Camp Arifjan bribery scandal

2 Americans Are Indicted in Iraq Contract Bribery

JACK HEALY – (NY Times) – BAGHDAD - May 30, 2011 - Two American businessmen have been charged with giving Army officers airline tickets, spa vacations and more than $1 million in bribes to secure multimillion-dollar contracts to supply the American military and help rebuild Iraq, according to court documents.

A federal indictment against the men, George H. Lee, and his son, Justin W. Lee, was unsealed on Friday. Both are charged with four counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy.

The Lees are among nearly 60 contractors and military officers to face criminal charges stemming from the scramble for often poorly monitored government contracts in the early years of the Iraq war.

Federal officials have also blocked 120 people and companies accused of fraud and corruption from doing business with the government. The Lees’ company, Lee Dynamics International, was suspended in July 2007.

Justin W. Lee was expected to appear in federal court in Philadelphia as early as Tuesday, and George H. Lee is believed to be at large outside the United States, possibly in Kuwait or Dubai. A lawyer who has represented the company did not return phone or e-mail messages on Monday.

Read the remainder of this entry »

Former Army Major Eddie Pressley and wife Eurica found guilty on 22 charges

Eddie Pressley enters federal court in Decatur for his trial on bribery charges (The Huntsville Times)

It took a federal jury in Alabama less than a day to convict a former US Army major and his wife of 22 counts of bribery, fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering on Tuesday.

Maj. Eddie Pressley and his wife Eurica, of Harvest, Ala., were accused of accepting $2.8 million in bribes between 2004 and 2006. Now, each faces a maximum sentence of 75 years in prison, US officials said.

The case against the Pressleys arose from a corruption probe focusing on Camp Arifjan, a US military base in Kuwait. The Pressleys were the first people in the case to go to trial.

Previously, 14 people had pleaded guilty to a mix of charges. Eight were former officers or enlisted personnel.

The case arose from what investigators called a free-wheeling culture of bribe-making and bribe-taking in Kuwait during the run-up to the US’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. Over three years, Arifjan contracting officers supervised activities ranging from base construction to transporting newly arrived soldiers to awarding millions of dollars in contracts for bottled water.

In December 2006, Army Maj. Gloria Dean Davis was detained for questioning in Baghdad over $225,000 that investigators found in the contracting officer’s overseas bank accounts. Davis agreed to cooperate, investigators say, but never did. She committed suicide with her gun within hours of being debriefed. Her suicide spurred a slew of search warrants, leading to several arrests.

Pressley was one of four Arifjan majors implicated in the probe. He was charged with conspiring with retired Army Sgt. Terry Hall to rig bottled-water bids as well as contracts to provide gravel and chain-link fencing. The two suspects acquired a $5 million parcel of land in Muscle Shoals, Ala., to develop as a resort property, according to evidence presented at trial.

Hall pleaded guilty in the case and testified against his former partner. At least two more senior officers are cooperating with investigators and are also expected to be charged, according to US officials. (click HERE for original article)

Another Army officer pleads guilty to bribery – where’s the honor?

Ex-Army officer expected to plead guilty to bribery

By Guillermo Contreras – Express-News
March 12, 2010

A former Army lieutenant colonel plans to plead guilty next month to charges that he accepted bribes in Iraq to rig an $11.7 million warehouse contract from a company accused of bribing another officer from San Antonio.

The Justice Department filed charges Feb. 26 against retired Lt. Col. Kevin A. Davis, who is cooperating, as part of a deal he struck to avoid having his case go before a grand jury, records obtained by the San Antonio Express-News show.

Davis is scheduled to plead guilty April 13 in Washington, D.C., to three bribery charges for accepting expensive airplane tickets and $50,000 from an American-run company in Kuwait. The company has been administratively blackballed over allegations that it also bribed other military officers, including then-Army Maj. John Cockerham. Read the remainder of this entry »

More arrests in the minority defense contractor bribery scheme

Maj. John L. Cockerham

Iraq War Contractor Guilty
Ex-Sergeant Pleads to Multiple Counts in Bribery Case Involving U.S. Army Officers

By JOEL MILLMAN

A former U.S. Army sergeant became the latest person to plead guilty in a sprawling bribes-for-contracts scheme in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 that has ended the careers of five military officers.

Terry Hall, 44 years old, of Snellville, Ga., pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, Ala., to multiple counts of bribery, conspiracy, money-laundering and wire fraud. He agreed to forfeit $15.7 million seized as evidence from offshore accounts, and faces up to 20 years in prison. Mr. Hall’s lawyer couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mr. Hall’s plea is another milestone in a case that began more than three years ago with the suicide of Army Maj. Gloria Davis in her quarters at Baghdad’s Camp Victory. The case has brought guilty pleas from three other majors and one lieutenant colonel, who were accused of conspiring to rig defense contracts worth tens of millions of dollars in Iraq and Kuwait. Read the remainder of this entry »