Guilty Plea Given In Iraq Contract Fraud

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
New York Times
June 11, 2008 By Eric Schmitt
WASHINGTON — A retired Army colonel who has been a focus of a wide-ranging criminal inquiry into contracting fraud in Iraq pleaded guilty on Tuesday to steering a military contract for warehouses in Iraq to a contractor for $4,000 and a vacation to Thailand.
The officer, Col. Levonda Joey Selph, pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy in United States District Court here as part of a deal with the government in which she agreed to cooperate with the investigation, according to court documents. She agreed to pay the government $9,000, and under sentencing guidelines, could serve a prison term of up to two years.
Colonel Selph was at the center of the effort to strengthen the fledgling Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005, and worked with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who commanded the effort at the time. He is now the top commander in Iraq. There is no indication that investigators have uncovered any wrongdoing by him.
A lawyer for Colonel Selph, Douglas C. McNabb, said she had been cooperating fully with federal authorities since last August. Mr. McNabb said Colonel Selph’s retirement from the Army National Guard became effective last week.
A Justice Department spokeswoman, Megan Gerking, declined to say why the plea agreement, which was sealed last Oct. 30, was unsealed on Tuesday. The unsealing may signal other steps in the investigation.
On Tuesday, the government said in court documents that in 2005, Colonel Selph served in Baghdad as head of a selection board that awarded a $12 million contract to build and operate Pentagon warehouses in Iraq.
The winning contractor was not identified by name in the court documents made public on Tuesday. But in previous court papers, the government said Lee Dynamics International, an American-owned company operating in Kuwait, was awarded $12 million in contracts in 2005 to build, operate and maintain several warehouses in Iraq. Those papers contend that as a result of bribes, the company illegally received advance information about the contracts.
On Tuesday, Colonel Selph admitted that she disclosed confidential government information about the contract to the head of the winning company and helped him submit fake bid packages on behalf of six companies he controlled to create a false sense of competition.
In exchange, the government said, in February 2005 the contractor gave her a trailer valued at $20,000. Seven months later, she returned the trailer and the contractor gave her $4,000 in cash. The contractor also paid for her air fare and accommodations on a trip to Thailand in October 2005, valued at about $5,000.