WANT MY $60,000, AND I WANT IT NOW!"
MilitaryCorruption.com has learned that a U.S. Army Reserve light colonel, part of a scheme to cheat the American taxpayer and make himself rich, got greedy when his benefactor - crooked contractor Philip Bloom - failed to quickly deposit $60,000 bribe money into the officer's stateside bank account.
The irritable field grade stupidly left an e-mail trail to Bloom and his assistant, Robert Stein, that helped investigators nail them all in a massive fraud and kickback scam. Bloom angrily messaged Stein to tell the colonel to "stop acting like a spoiled child."
Lt. Col. Bruce Hopfengardner, 46, of Fredericksburg, Va. had it made in the shade. While "grunts" in the field at pay grade of PFC and Lance Corporal were doing the fighting and dying, this brass hat could have gotten wealthy from just sitting on his butt and collecting his fat paycheck. But no, the corrupt officer wanted more, and knew what he could do to get it.
PLENTY OF "GOODIES" FOR A CORRUPT COLONEL
As an official in the Coalition Provisional Authority at Hillah, Iraq (just south of Baghdad), the light colonel was one of the officers - see related stories box - that had power to award reconstruction contracts. And Hopfengardner knew he would get kickbacks galore if he favored sleezy Philip Bloom.
Some of his ill-gotten gains included a 2004 SUV with sandstone interior; a slick Harley-Davidson motorcycle; a Breitling watch worth almost $6,000; free airline tickets to Orlando, Fla. and plenty of cash. Whether Hopfengardner sampled some of the whores Bloom kept at his villa isn't clear. But it seemed the more loot he accumulated in exchange for his criminal acts, the greedier he got.
Now the lieut. colonel has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering and wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years at Leavenworth and a $500,000 fine. He also forfeits all the "goodies" he got from Bloom, including some $144, 500 in cash.
Investigators say more than $2 million earmarked for legitimate construction projects instead went into Bloom's company coffers. The work wasn't done, and even with all the Halliburton abuses making the news (Vice-president Cheney having a big piece of the action is only a coincidence, don't you know?) this fraud was so blatant, the authorities had to act.
AT LEAST THREE USAR LTC'S IMPLICATED IN THE $CAM
Several other officers have been implicated and arrested in the huge scam, including Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler of Amherst Junction, Wis. and USAR officer, Lt. Col. Debra Harrison of Trenton, N.J.
Hopfengardner is the only officer, so far, to plead guilty.
Harrison, who got a John Kerry-type Purple Heart "wound" in Iraq and was awarded the Bronze Star to boot, will be stripped of those medals and her freedom if the Feds can convict her on money laundering charges. The grasping female officer netted a Cadillac car and plenty of bucks to do major improvements on her home in New Jersey, investigators said.
At present, she is free on bond.
RESERVE LT. COLONEL ARRESTED