Major defrauded DOD contracts in Iraq for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle December 27th, 2008 In a long, ongoing investigation into corruption of awarding Defense contracts, it appears the price to betray the honor of a major’s uniform was in part a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
According the Department of Justice, earlier this week a major in the U.S. ArmyReserve, Theresa Jeanne Baker, pleaded guilty today for her role in two bribery schemes involving U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contracts at Camp Victory, Iraq.
She pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City to conspiracy and bribery charges. The plea is subject to court approval, and Baker’s sentence will be determined by the court.
As part of the same investigation, Elie Samir Chidiac, aformer employee of a defense contractor, Raman International Inc., which does business as Raman Corporation (Raman), was indicted in January 2008 on conspiracy tocommit bribery in connection with the same activity. Chidiac is currently a fugitive. On June 3, 2008, Cypress, Texas-based Raman pleaded guilty to an indictment charging conspiracy to commit bribery and agreed to pay a $500,000 criminal fine and restitution in the amount of $327,192 to the DOD for its role in one of these schemes.
Raman’s plea agreement is subject to court approval.Accordingto the charging document, in the first conspiracy, Baker received money and otheritems from Raman and Chidiac, including a new Harley Davidson motorcycle, in return for conveying sensitive information and fraudulently awarding contracts to Raman.
Upon performance of these contracts, Chidiac received payment from the DOD on Raman’s behalf and kicked back a portion of that profit to Baker. In the second conspiracy, Baker canceled contracts that were awarded to third party contractors and fraudulently re-awarded them to Chidiac. Baker then authorized Chidiac to receive cash payments for those contracts, totaling more than $700,000, despite the fact that Chidiac had neither delivered any goods nor performed any services. In return, Chidiac gave a portion of the money back to Baker. Baker then sent cash, concealed in packages, through the U.S. mail.
“The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who defraud our military of necessary goods and services,” said Deborah A. Garza, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of theDepartment’s Antitrust Division. “We commend the detection efforts of the federal agents assigned to this investigation.
“The U.S. Army procures goods and services in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, including critical infrastructure, technological components and construction services. Camp Victory is the primary component of the Victory Base Complex, which occupies the area surrounding the Baghdad InternationalAirport.
Baker was charged with two counts of bribery, with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for each count and the greater of a $250,000 fine or three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value. She also was charged with two counts of conspiracy, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each count and a$250,000 fine. The maximum fines may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either amount is greater than the statutory maximum fine.