Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Corruption: Conviction in yet another Iraq fuel scandal

Robert Jeffery, 55, was convicted today by a federal jury in Alexandria, Va., for his role in a scheme to steal fuel worth approximately $39.6 million from the U.S. Army in Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana J. Boente.

Jeffery, a former master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy, was convicted after a two-day trial on one count of conspiracy and one count of theft of government property. According to the evidence presented at trial, from February 2008 through May 2008, Jeffery and his co-conspirators, purportedly representing Department of Defense contractors in Iraq, used fraudulently obtained documents to enter the Victory Bulk Fuel Point (VBFP) in Camp Liberty, Iraq. Evidence showed that Jeffery and his co-conspirators presented false fuel authorization forms to steal large quantities of aviation and diesel fuel from the VBFP for subsequent sale on the black market.

The evidence at trial showed that Jeffery served as an escort for the fuel trucks and retrieved hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel from the VBFP. The United States owns and operates the VBFP in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The VBFP supplies aviation fuel and diesel fuel to both military units and U.S. government contractors operating in and around the VBFP.

Jeffery is a U.S. citizen who, until his arrest in connection with this case, resided in the Philippines. At sentencing, Jeffery faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 11, 2009.

In related cases, Lee William Dubois, Robert Young and Michel Jamil each pleaded guilty to participating in the same scheme. In his guilty plea on Oct. 7, 2008, Dubois admitted that he obtained government-issued common access cards for the drivers and escorts of the trucks and also presented false documents to the VBFP authorizing his co-conspirators to draw fuel. Dubois admitted that he and his co-conspirators stole approximately 10 million gallons of fuel, and that he received at least $450,000 in personal profits from the subsequent sale of the fuel on the black market. Sentencing for Dubois is scheduled for Aug. 28, 2009.

Young, 56, a former captain in the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty on July 24, 2009. In his guilty plea, Young admitted that between October 2007 and May 2008, he and his co-conspirators used fraudulently-obtained documents to enter the VBFP and presented false fuel authorization forms to steal aviation and diesel fuel from the VBFP for subsequent sale on the black market. As a result of the scheme, Young received approximately $1 million in personal profits. Sentencing for Young is scheduled for Oct. 30, 2009.

Jamil, 59, pleaded guilty on July 27, 2009, for his role in the scheme. Jamil admitting that in March 2007, he and two of his co-conspirators arranged for the creation of a false Memorandum for Record (MFR) authorizing individuals to draw fuel from VBFP, purportedly on behalf of a company serving as a contractor to the U.S. government. Jamil admitted that he and his co-conspirators used this false MFR and others to steal large quantities of fuel from the U.S. Army for subsequent sale on the Iraqi black market. As a result of the scheme, Jamil admitted he received between $75,000 and $87,500 in profits. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13, 2009.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Linick, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section, and Fraud Section Trial Attorneys Andrew Gentin and Brigham Cannon. The investigation of this case was conducted by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the FBI and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Published by Mike Hitchen,
Putting principles before profits