Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 3, 2013
U.S. Army Major Pleads Guilty in South Carolina to Defrauding U.S. Government

WASHINGTON – A U.S. Army Major has pleaded guilty today to accepting thousands of dollars in gratuities from contractors while he was a U.S. Army captain deployed to Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina William N. Nettles.

Ulysses S. Hicks, 40, of Sumter, S.C., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Chief Judge Margaret B. Seymour in the District of South Carolina to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to accept illegal gratuities.

According to court documents, Hicks was a captain in the U.S. Army, who was deployed to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Hammer in Iraq as a pay agent for field ordering officer (FOO) funds.  FOO funds are used to purchase miscellaneous items and supplies such as paint, lumber and plywood from local vendors.  It is a violation of federal law for pay agents to accept gratuities from contractors dependent upon them for contracts.

From about March 2007 through October 2008, Hicks, along with co-conspirator former U.S. Army Master Sergeant Julio Soto Jr., was involved with the construction of a government building at FOB Hammer by local Iraqi contractors.  According to court documents, Hicks and Soto unlawfully sought, received and accepted illegal gratuities for helping Iraqi contractors gain U.S. government contracts.  After accepting the illegal gratuities, Hicks and Soto purchased U.S. Postal money orders with the illegal proceeds and mailed them back to the United States.

At sentencing, Hicks faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release.  As part of his plea agreement, Hicks agreed to pay $65,409 plus interest in restitution to the United States. 

Soto pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2012, before U.S. District Chief Judge Seymour to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to accept illegal gratuities.  On Dec. 7, 2012, Soto was sentenced to serve five years of probation and ordered to pay $62,542 in restitution. 

This case is being prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney Mark Grider of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday, Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.  The case was investigated by SIGIR, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Major Procurement Fraud Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.

13-009