Two Individuals Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Launder Bribes Received in Afghanistan

Two individuals have pleaded guilty for their roles in a scheme to launder approximately $250,000 in bribes received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Edward L. Stanton III and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee William C. Killian made the announcement.
Jimmy W. Dennis, 44, formerly of Clarksville, Tennessee, and a former First Sergeant with the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Samuel H. May Jr. of the Western District of Tennessee to conspiracy to launder approximately $250,000 in bribe payments he received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan.    Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 4, 2014.

James C. Pittman, 45, of Rossville, Georgia, pleaded guilty last Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter of the Eastern District of Tennessee for his role in this conspiracy.    Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2014.

According to pleadings filed at the time of the guilty pleas, from March 2008 through March 2009, Dennis was an Army Sergeant assigned as a paying agent in the Humanitarian Aid Yard (HA Yard) at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.    Dennis was a member of the team in the HA Yard that purchased supplies from local Afghan vendors for distribution as part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for urgent humanitarian relief requirements in Afghanistan.    Dennis and a partner entered into an agreement to steer contracts to certain Afghan vendors in return for approximately $250,000 in cash bribes.

Further according to court pleadings, Dennis smuggled the bribe money back to the United States hidden in packages addressed to his wife, his father and a former Army friend, Pittman.    Dennis sent $80,000 to $100,000 to his father from Afghanistan in packages that contained toy “jingle trucks,” colorfully decorated trucks or buses in Afghanistan and Pakistan.    Dennis hid the money in the rear compartment of the toy trucks.    Dennis also shipped a hope chest to his father containing approximately $100,000 in cash in a concealed compartment.

Also according to court documents, while on leave, Dennis met with Pittman, advised him that he had obtained money through kickbacks, and asked him for help laundering the funds.    Pittman, owner of a landscaping business, agreed to “run through his company” these bribery proceeds.  After returning to Afghanistan, Dennis sent approximately $60,000 to Pittman contained in toy jingle trucks.    Dennis also arranged for his father to send approximately $20,000 to Pittman, who returned it in the form of purported salary checks from Pittman’s company.

These matters are being investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the FBI, the Army Criminal Investigative Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation.    The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frederick Godwin of the Western District of Tennessee and James Brooks of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Independent Contractor in Afghanistan Pleads Guilty for His Role in Offering $54,000 in Bribes to a U.S. Government Official

Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., Akbar Ahmad Sherzai, 49, of Centreville, Va., an independent contractor for a trucking company operating in Afghanistan that was responsible for delivering fuel to U.S. Army installations, pleaded guilty to his role in offering a U.S. Army serviceman $54,000 in bribes to falsify documents to reflect the successful delivery of fuel shipments that Army records indicate were never delivered.  Sherzai faces a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta E. Lynch made the announcement.
“The defendant sought to use deception, corruption and greed to enrich his company at the risk of jeopardizing the U.S. Army’s supply lines in Afghanistan,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “Attempts to corrupt American officials will not be tolerated, either at home or abroad.”  U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Special Inspector General for the Afghanistan Reconstruction, Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI for their assistance in this case.
The U.S. Army regularly contracts with local Afghan trucking companies to transport U.S. military equipment, fuel, and other supplies throughout Afghanistan.  To ensure the companies fulfilled these requests, the U.S. Army used transportation movement requests (TMRs), which, when properly completed, verified that the shipments were successfully completed before approving payments to the trucking companies.
In April 2013, Sherzai approached a U.S. military serviceman to discuss fuel delivery missions that had been classified by the U.S. Army as “no-shows,” meaning that the fuel had not been delivered.  Sherzai offered the serviceman a bribe to falsify the TMRs to reflect successful deliveries so that Sherzai’s company would receive payment and avoid penalties for failed fuel deliveries.  The serviceman, under the supervision of law enforcement, continued to meet with Sherzai to discuss payments for the falsification of records.  On two separate occasions, Sherzai paid the serviceman bribes in cash on American military bases in Afghanistan.  On another occasion, Sherzai arranged for the serviceman’s bribe to be transferred to the United States through a hawala, an informal money transfer system.  In total, Sherzai paid the serviceman $54,000 in cash to falsify fourteen TMRs.  Each “no show” delivery mission, absent the fraudulent TMRs, would have resulted in a fine of the company by the U.S. government of $75,000.
Sherzai was arrested on a criminal complaint on Sept. 24, 2013.  The guilty plea proceeding was held before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert M. Levy.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Amir H. Toossi and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

 

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Former Defense Contractor Employee and Wife Plead Guilty to Conspiring to Defraud Millions in Scheme Involving Supplies to Afghan National Army

Keith Johnson, 46, and his wife, Angela Johnson, 44, of Maryville, Tenn., pleaded guilty today to their roles in a $9.7 million procurement fraud scheme.

Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Robert E. Craig, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge of Mid-Atlantic Field Office; John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR); and Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU), made the announcement after the pleas were accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia.

The Johnsons were indicted on July 16, 2013, by a federal grand jury on conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud charges.  Keith Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and Angela Johnson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when they are sentenced on Feb. 14, 2014.

In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Keith Johnson admitted to serving as the program manager for a Department of Defense contractor that operated a central maintenance facility (CMF) in Kabul, Afghanistan, and other facilities in that country to maintain and repair vehicles used by the Afghan National Army.  In his position during 2007 to 2008, Keith Johnson was involved in purchasing vehicle parts from vendors.  The Johnsons formed a company in Tennessee, Military Logistics Support (MLS), and listed only the names of relatives as officials in the documents filed.  Angela Johnson operated the company.  When Keith Johnson’s company solicited quotes for different vehicle parts that were needed, Angela Johnson, using her maiden name of “Angela Gregory” to conceal her relationship to Keith Johnson, responded with quotes based on parts that she was able to purchase from other vendors of vehicle parts.  Keith Johnson used his position as program manager to write letters justifying awards of purchase orders for parts to MLS without seeking competitive quotes, and in instances in which there had been competitive quotes, approving recommendations that the awards be made to MLS.

The Johnsons also conspired with John Eisner and Jerry Kieffer, two individuals who worked at the CMF as subcontractors to Keith Johnson’s company, to have Keith Johnson similarly steer purchase orders for other types of vehicle parts to Eisner’s and Kieffer’s separate company, Taurus Holdings.  Eisner submitted the quotes for Taurus using a fake name to conceal his connection to the subcontractor.  Eisner and Kieffer paid kickbacks to the Johnsons and on occasion engaged in collusive bidding with the Johnsons so that MLS could win competitions for certain purchase orders.  Eisner and Kieffer previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and will be sentenced on Dec. 18, 2013.

As a result of the scheme, Keith Johnson’s company awarded MLS at least $9.7 million worth of purchase orders for vehicle parts by Keith Johnson’s company.

This case was investigated by DCIS, FBI, SIGAR and Army MPFU.  Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorneys Jack Hanly and Ryan Faulconer of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.