Bagram, Afghanistan, corruption

From Courthouse News Service in the USA:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Update: 10:10 AM PT

Bribery Was Rampant at Bagram Airfield


An eighth conspirator, a former major in the Army National Guard, was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison for taking bribes from military contractors at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan for verifying receipt of concrete bunkers and barriers that were never delivered.

Christopher West, of Chicago, was sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly in Chicago. West also was ordered to pay $500,000 in restitution to the Department of Defense.

West pleaded guilty in June 2009 to a superseding indictment charging him with eight counts of bribery, conspiracy and fraud.

West was deployed to Bagram from March 2004 until March 2005, where he and Lt. Robert Moore had sole responsibility for ordering, receiving and verifying the receipt of bunkers and barriers at Bagram. At the time, the base served as the central receiving point for all bunkers and barriers in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors said West and Moore conspired with the bunker and barrier contractors to inflate the number of bunkers and barriers delivered so they could profit from the Pentagon’s overpayments for the nonexistent bunkers and barriers.

“West and Moore fraudulently verified on material inspection and receiving reports that the contractors had delivered the inflated number of bunkers and barriers. As a result, the contractors were able to receive payment for the falsely inflated number of bunkers and barriers,” prosecutors said in a statement. “Upon receiving payment, the contractors paid West and Moore a portion of the money received.”

Court records show that West, Moore and co-conspirator Sgt. Patrick Boyd awarded contracts to three contractors in return for $30,000 each.

West is the eighth defendant sentenced in this investigation. Ten defendants remain to be sentenced, some in the Northern District of Illinois and others in Hawaii.

Robert Moore and Patrick Boyd were sentenced to 15 months and 40 months in prison, respectively. Sgt. Sheryl Ayeni was sentenced to 1 year in prison for taking $30,000 for her official acts as a vendor pay agent at Bagram during 2004 and 2005.

John Mihalczo was sentenced to 15 months in prison for taking about $115,000 in bribes at Bagram between 2003 and 2004.

As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the arrival of the first prisoners at Guantánamo Detention Center, several thousand miles away sits another United States detention facility, less well-known but with a history perhaps even more gruesome. Obscured throughout the decade-long “global war on terror,” the detention center at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan is where two detainees died in December 2002. Initial autopsies at the time ruled both deaths homicides, according to a 2,000-page confidential Army file obtained by the New York Times. Autopsies of the two dead detainees found severe trauma to both prisoners’ legs. The coroner for one of the dead noted, “I’ve seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus”: here.

Afghan woman forced to marry her rapist: here.

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