RESERVE LT. COLONEL ARRESTED
She was recruiting poster material. Lt. Col. Debra Harrison of Trenton, N.J. had the world by the tail. Then greed tripped her up.
An Army Reserve light colonel in a Norristown, Pa. civil affairs unit, the 47 year-old officer had served nearly 18 months in Iraq from 2003 to the end of 2004. She got a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, (albeit a "John Murtha" type "wound" - very little blood and no hospitalization required), before returning to the States from the war zone.
Investigators tell MilitaryCorruption.com that Hamilton - now out on bail - was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering, possession of unauthorized firearms and wire fraud "in connection with a scheme to defraud the Coalition Provisional Authority - South Central Region (CPA-SC) in Al-Hillah, Iraq."
If convicted, the field-grade officer could get up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
SEVERAL INVOLVED IN THE MONEY RIP-OFF
Harrison wasn't the only officer to get nabbed. Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler of Amherst Junction, Wis. was also arrested on similar charges.
The alleged ringleader of the plot was crooked contractor Philip Bloom, who offered more than a million dollars in bribes "so that his companies could receive contracts for the vital task of rebuilding Iraq," said Asst. Attorney Gen. Alice S. Fisher of the Department of Justice in Washington.
Bloom, who allegedly entertained from an opulent Baghdad villa, complete with hot and cold running women to entertain his "guests" and "cronies," cut a plea bargain with the Feds where he admitted he conspired with CPA-SC comptroller and funding officer Robert Stein as well as Lt. Cols. Harrison and Wheeler, to make sure all contracts were awarded to himself.
The "take" was in excess of $8.8 million, officials disclosed.
LONG JAIL TERMS AND BIG FINES COULD RESULT
Bloom admitted he paid Stein and others more than $2 million in money and gifts in return for them using their official positions to award contracts to his companies. Court documents showed Bloom, Stein and others "facilitated numerous wire transfers of money that were proceeds of fraudulently-awarded bids and at least $2 million in stolen money from the CPA, in order to conceal the source and origin of the funds," a DOJ spokesman said.
The shady, 65 year-old money-man faces up to 40 years in prison and a $750,000 fine if found guilty. Under the terms of his plea agreement with the government, Bloom must pay $3.6 in restitution and forfeit $3.6 million in assets to the United States.
Harrison left a paper trail when she thanked Bloom by e-mail for his gift to her of a $50,000 Cadillac Escalade. The female colonel used dirty money to build a deck, hot tub and other home improvements, agents said.
She also got a $6,000 airline ticket from the contractor.
Plot kingpin Stein has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, possession of machine guns and being a felon in possession of a firearm, in connection with the scheme to defraud the CPA," a DOJ spokesman said. "Stein also admitted to facilitating the purchase and possession of at least 50 weapons, including machine guns, silencers and grenade launchers with misappropriated CPA. funds.
Stein, a convicted felon, remains in custody."
We'd like to ask the Pentagon why a convicted felon like Stein managed to land a top job working for Uncle Sam in Iraq in the first place!