Former Army Officer Indicted for Theft of Government Property
|Aug. 16, 2012|
HOUSTON - Former Army officer Abuzuike O. Ukabam, 34, of Humble, Texas, has been arrested following the return of an indictment alleging wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and false statements in connection with his military service, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
The nine-count federal indictment, returned July 30, 2012, was unsealed late yesterday upon his arrest by agents with the Defense Contractors Investigative Service (DCIS) in Los Angeles, Calif. He is expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in California this morning and will be transferred to Houston to face the charges here in the near future.
The indictment alleges Ukabam was deployed to Iraq as an artillery officer in late 2006. While there, he was designated as a pay agent with responsibilities to receive receipts and invoices from Iraqi contractors who worked at the Forward Operating Base Justice in performing jobs for the Army. He was responsible for processing the invoices to be sure they were properly paid.
Ukabam allegedly changed or caused to be changed certain invoices by increasing the total amount due for the invoice. The indictment alleges he then paid the contractor the original invoice amount and kept the difference in cash. After leaving Iraq in late 2007 and following his arrival in Germany, he allegedly deposited some of the money into bank accounts in Germany and instructed certain amounts to be sent via wire transfer to his account in the United States. As a result of the scheme he created, the indictment alleges Ukabam stole approximately $110,000.
If convicted of wire fraud, Ukabam faces up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts charged. He is also charged with three counts of theft of government property for which he faces up to 10 years for each conviction. The two counts of money laundering carry a possible sentence of 10 years on each, while he also faces up to five years for each of two possible convictions of making false statements. The fine for each count, upon conviction, is up to $250,000.
The investigation has been conducted by DCIS and the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction. Assistant United States Attorney Cedric L. Joubert is prosecuting the case.