Army Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy in Afghanistan Bribery Scheme
A Fort Wainwright Army sergeant pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to receive bribes and defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to steal fuel at a forward operating base (FOB) in Afghanistan.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler of the District of Alaska, Special Agent in Charge Marlin L. Ritzman of the FBI’s Anchorage, Alaska, Division and Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko made the announcement.
Sheldon J. Morgan, 36, pleaded guilty in Fairbanks, Alaska, before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline of the District of Alaska to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to receive bribes and defraud the United States. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 21, 2016.
According to admissions made as part of this plea agreement, from May 2010 until May 2011, Morgan, then a specialist in the U.S. Army, was deployed at FOB Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan. FOB Fenty served as a hub for distribution of fuel to nearby military bases. Morgan’s duties included assisting in overseeing the distribution of fuel to the bases, he admitted.
Morgan also admitted that on two separate occasions in December 2010, he arranged for a translator employed by an Afghan trucking company to steal 5,000 gallons of fuel. The translator promised Morgan $5,000 per truckload and wired the money to an account outside of the United States that Morgan had his wife open in her name, according to the plea agreement. Morgan admitted that he and his wife used the money for their personal benefit. The conspiracy caused approximately $37,300 in loss to the U.S. government.
This is the eighth guilty plea for similar fuel theft/bribery schemes at FOB Fenty for U.S. military members and their associates who were assigned to the base between June 2009 and April 2012.
The FBI and SIGAR investigated the case. Trial Attorney Daniel P. Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Cooper of the District of Alaska are prosecuting the case.