12/5/2012 Kentucky-Based Defense Contractors, Owners Agree to Pay $6.25 Million to Resolve Allegations That They Submitted False Statements and Claims to Obtain Army Contracts Intended for Small Businesses (WDKY)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Weaver pleaded guilty today to bribery charges for his role in the theft of fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer.
Weaver, 29, of Fort Carson, Colo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger in the District of Colorado to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery.
Weaver’s plea is the second guilty plea arising from an investigation into fuel thefts at FOB Fenty. On Aug. 3, 2012, Weaver’s co-conspirator Jonathan Hightower, 30, of Houston, pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme.
According to court documents, from approximately January 2010 through June 2010, Weaver and Hightower were involved in overseeing the delivery of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases. As part of this process, documents generally described as “transportation movement requests” (TMRs) were created, which authorized the movement of the fuel. Weaver pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy in which fraudulent TMRs, which purported to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, were created even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required. After the trucks were filled with fuel, these fraudulent documents were used by the drivers of the fuel trucks at FOB Fenty’s departure checkpoint in order to justify the trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty. In truth, according to court documents, the fuel was simply stolen.
Weaver pleaded guilty to receiving payments from a representative of a military contractor that was responsible for transporting fuel in Afghanistan in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 100 fuel trucks. According to Weaver’s signed plea agreement, the loss to the United States as a result of the scheme was in excess of $1.5 million. According to court documents, Weaver sent cash back from Afghanistan to the United States, in part, by mailing the money inside a stuffed bear.
According to court documents, Hightower worked in Afghanistan as an employee of FLUOR Inc., a U.S. government contractor, from January 2010 to June 2010, where he served as a petroleum supply specialist and was responsible for receiving and disbursing fuel – primarily jet fuel known as JP-8 – for use at FOB Fenty or for transport to other military bases. According to court documents, Hightower, Weaver and others would receive cash from a representative of a military contractor that was responsible for transporting fuel in Afghanistan, and the money would be apportioned among the conspirators.
Hightower pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez in the District of Colorado to two counts of conspiracy to receive bribes – one count involving his conspiracy with Weaver, and another count involving his conspiracy with another alleged co-conspirator at FOB Fenty. Hightower admitted facilitating the theft of over 100 trucks of fuel and a loss to the United States in excess of $1.5 million.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pletcher of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, formerly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Fraud Section. The cases were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; the Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the FBI; and the Department of the Air Force, Office of Special Investigations. Valuable assistance was also provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.
WASHINGTON – Two former employees of The Parsons Company, an international engineering and construction firm, were sentenced in federal court in the Northern District of Alabama for their participation in a kickback conspiracy in Iraq and related tax crimes, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Joyce White Vance.
Billy Joe Hunt, 57, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon in federal court in Huntsville, Ala., to 15 months in prison, three years of supervised release, $66,212 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and forfeiture of $236,472. Gaines R. Newell Jr., 53, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Virginia Hopkins in federal court in Birmingham, Ala., to 27 months in prison, three years of supervised release, $1,102,115 in restitution ($861,027 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and $241,088 to the IRS) and forfeiture of $861,027.
On May 8, 2012, Hunt pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and pay kickbacks, and one count of subscribing a false tax return. On April 10, 2012, Newell pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and to pay kickbacks, and one count of subscribing a false tax return.
According to court documents, Newell and Hunt were employed by Parsons in Iraq as program manager and deputy program manager, respectively, under a contract that Parsons held to support the Coalition Munitions Clearance Program operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Huntsville. The Coalition Munitions Program sought to preclude insurgents and other unfriendly groups from getting munitions that had been stockpiled, abandoned or seized, and using them against Coalition forces or the Iraqi public. In their plea proceedings, Newell and Hunt admitted taking over $1 million in kickbacks from subcontractors from 2005 to 2007, in return for arranging to award contracts on the munitions clearance program to subcontractors. Newell and Hunt also admitted filing false federal income tax returns by not disclosing kickback income.
On May 21, 2012, Hunt and Newell’s co-conspirator Ahmed Sarchil Kazzaz, 45, pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme. Kazzaz and his business, Leadstay Company, were indicted in the Northern District of Alabama in September 2011 for paying over $947,000 in kickbacks to Newell and Hunt. According to the plea agreement, between March 2006 and June 2007, Kazzaz agreed to pay kickbacks to Newell and Hunt totaling 13 percent of the amounts paid by Parsons, and thus obtained over $23 million in subcontracts providing materials and equipment to Parsons. After Kazzaz’s arrest in Los Angeles on Dec. 2, 2011, this case was transferred to the Central District of California, where Kazzaz pleaded guilty. His sentencing is set for Oct. 29, 2012 before U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in the Central District of California.
The cases are being prosecuted by Catherine Votaw, Director of Procurement Fraud for the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Estes of the Northern District of Alabama. The investigation was handled by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the IRS-Criminal Investigations Division and the FBI.