A sergeant with the U.S. Army was sentenced today to 51 months in prison for accepting bribes from Afghan truck drivers at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Gardez in Afghanistan, in exchange for allowing the drivers to take thousands of gallons of fuel from the base for resale on the black market, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.
James Edward Norris, 41, of Fort Irwin, California, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land of the Middle District of Georgia, who also ordered Norris to pay $176,100 in restitution and to forfeit two vehicles he purchased with money from the bribery scheme and $70,000 in cash that he received from the scheme.
In connection with his guilty plea, Norris admitted that he conspired with other soldiers stationed at FOB Gardez to solicit and accept approximately $2,000 per day from local Afghan truck drivers in exchange for permitting the truck drivers to take thousands of gallons of fuel from the base. Norris admitted that he was personally paid a total of $100,000 over the course of the conspiracy.
Norris and the other soldiers shipped the bribe proceeds back to the United States in tough boxes. Norris admitted that, after returning from deployment, he purchased a 2008 Cadillac Escalade with $31,000 cash derived from the bribery scheme and a custom built 2014 Hardcore Choppers motorcycle with approximately $30,000 in proceeds from the scheme.
Seneca Hampton, another U.S. Army sergeant, pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme on Feb. 10, 2015, and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 28, 2015. Anthony Tran, a former U.S. Army specialist, was indicted on March 10, 2015, for his alleged role in the scheme and remains pending trial. The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency’s Investigative Support Division. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John Keller of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.