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Five Americans charged in Iraq bribery scheme

By
February 8, 2007

By JAMES VICINI

Three U.S. Army Reserve officers and two U.S. civilians have been charged with taking or helping funnel more than $1 million in cash, sports cars, jewelry and other items as bribes to rig bids on Iraqi reconstruction contracts, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

They said the five have been indicted by a federal grand jury in New Jersey in a scheme that involved the theft of millions of dollars of Iraqi reconstruction money and the awarding of contracts to Philip Bloom, who doled out the bribes.

The officials said the agency in charge of Iraqi reconstruction lost more than $3.6 million because of the corrupt scheme that began in December 2003 and lasted two years.

Bloom, who has already pleaded guilty, received more than $8.6 million in rigged contracts, the officials said.

They said more than $500,000 was smuggled into the United States, with some of the money going for a deck and hot tub at the New Jersey home owned by two of the defendants.

“They stole the money in Iraq and them smuggled vast sums into the United States to support lavish lifestyles,” Mark Everson, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, said at a news conference to announce the charges.

The charges were announced the day after Democrats at a House hearing sharply questioned the former Coalition Provisional Authority head about the lack of oversight for $12 billion in money that was disbursed.

The 25-count indictment charged U.S. Army Col. Curtis Whiteford, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Debra Harrison and Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler, and civilians Michael Morris and William Driver.

Whiteford once was the second most senior official at the Coalition Provisional Authority for the South Central Region in Iraq, while Harrison was its acting comptroller. Wheeler was an advisor for Iraqi reconstruction projects.

Driver, one of the civilians, is married to Harrison. Morris, who was living in Romania, was accused of helping Bloom funnel money to the military officials.

According to the indictment, Harrison and her husband received a Cadillac Escalade as a bribe and used tens of thousands of dollars for improvements to their home in Trenton, including a deck and hot tub.

“This indictment alleges that the defendants flagrantly enriched themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people,” Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said.

Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq, vowed to root out waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq. He said 80 cases are under investigation.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

9 Responses to Five Americans charged in Iraq bribery scheme

  1. SEAL

    February 8, 2007 at 6:02 am

    Here we go again.

    The monarchy created a perfectly legal way to steal billions of dollars. But a few of the handlers couldn’t resist the urge to illegally syphon off some of the booty for themselves. The monarchy knew that would happen. It always does. They count on that to garner all the attention. See there Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public – those are the bad guys. They get all the blame. They’re the ones who stole your money and we caught them. So, we’re the good guys. The very rich good guys with billions of legally stolen booty. But everyone forgets about that while the media circus ensues about the few bad guys they caught that were dumb enough to steal a little of it “illegally.”

    The story is always the same. Only the cast of characters and the locations change.

  2. Spock

    February 8, 2007 at 6:53 am

    Never undereastimate human greed.

  3. Sandy Price

    February 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Another level of corruption rises again from our political groups of authority. A lack of oversight in every level of our government and in our war efforts has finally reached critcal mass. Until we Americans demand a level of integrity be infused immediately, we should bring every body home and into the world’s largest rehab hospital.

  4. JimZ

    February 8, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Small ‘taters, these.

    The ones that stole (and are stealing) the most will never be indicted.

  5. ron kay

    February 8, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    ……where’s Osama ?!?!?

  6. Jim

    February 8, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    It was Clinton’s fault!

  7. Jennifer

    February 8, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty..shocked me. That’s my madien name.

    What do you think is going to happen to those $100 bills, 363 tons of them, with no paper chase?

    Unbeievable, but every, every day more things keep amazing us all.

    A lady in daipers, Anne Nochole Smith dying…that’s fluff to distract us from billions going into the pockets of those who are smart enough to not get caught. I wonder who THEY are? Can we all guess….what a crock of shit it all is!!!

    Stock-up friends, we’re in for a tidal wave soon.

    Peace,

    jennifer/Wisdomkeeper

  8. SEAL

    February 9, 2007 at 4:32 am

    Us Floridians will survive better than everyone else because we are all equiped with generators and back stocked on fuel, batteries, and non-perishable goods. This is hurricane alley. We had four in a row a couple of years ago. Everyone down here is prepared for disaster and the possibility of anarchy. We have plenty weapons, plenty ammo, and plenty attitude. Let the games begin.

  9. RLewis

    February 9, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Does anyone else feel like they’re dissociating… the world is no longer real, or you are no longer real? Every day it’s another unbelievable atrocity… like a monsterous soap opera or nightmare horror flick from which you cannot awake or escape… frozen like a deer in the headlights.

    The best thing the rest of the world could do for themselves is to provide us with the money to complete that Southern border… & the Northern border, & the Eastern border, & the Western border… & then just throw a net over us!!