A former employee of a Department of Defense contracting company at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, was sentenced today to serve 30 months in prison for attempting to smuggle $150,000 in kickback proceeds he received for steering U.S. government subcontracts to an Afghan company, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom of the District of Kansas.
Donald Gene Garst, 51, of Topeka, Kan., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Julie A. Robinson in Topeka. In addition to his prison term, Garst was sentenced to serve one year of supervised release and was ordered to pay a fine of $52,117. The department previously forfeited the $150,000 Garst had attempted to smuggle into the United States.
Garst pleaded guilty on Nov. 9, 2012, to a one-count information charging him with bulk cash smuggling. According to court documents, Garst was employed by a private U.S. company that was contracted by the U.S. government and its armed forces at Bagram Airfield from January 2009 to May 2011. Garst was involved in identifying, evaluating and monitoring subcontracts awarded to Afghan companies by his employer, and he used his position to meet executives of an Afghan construction company called Somo Logistics. Garst then entered into an agreement with the Afghans under which he would receive kickback payments on a contract-by-contract basis in return for treating Somo Logisitcs favorably in the contracting process.
In December 2010, Garst accepted a kickback for $60,000 on the first subcontract awarded to Somo Logistics. The subcontract was for the term lease of heavy equipment meant to be used for construction on Bagram Airfield. Garst hand-carried approximately $20,000 of the kickback proceeds into the United States, and he received the remainder via a series of structured wire transfers from Somo Logistics executives.
In May 2011, Garst accepted a $150,000 kickback for a second subcontract for the lease of heavy construction equipment. Garst shipped the $150,000 in cash to the United States, and his failure to declare the value of the shipment was discovered by law enforcement.
Garst had further agreed to receive $400,000 on a third subcontract, but his scheme was discovered by law enforcement before he could receive that payment.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Maag and Trial Attorney Wade Weems of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section. The case was investigated by Special Agents with the Army Criminal Investigations Division and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, with assistance from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the FBI.