Former Senior Employee with U.S. Military Contractor Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison for Bribery Scheme Related to Contracts Used to Support Iraq War
WASHINGTON - A former senior employee of a U.S. military contractor was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge David Hittner in Houston to 37 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to pay $360,000 in bribes to U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at a U.S. military base in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
In addition, Judge Hittner ordered Dorothy Ellis, 53, of Texas City, Texas, to serve three years of supervised release following her prison term and ordered her to pay $360,000 in restitution. Ellis pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Sept. 2, 2010, to one count of conspiracy to bribe public officials.
The case against Ellis arose from a corruption probe focusing on Camp Arifjan, a U.S. military base in Kuwait. As a result of this investigation, 16 individuals, including Ellis, have been charged, of which 14 have pleaded guilty. These individuals include Ellis’s former boss and military contractor, Terry Hall, and several U.S. Army contracting officials, including former Army Majors James Momon and Christopher Murray.
According to court documents, from spring 2004 through fall 2007, Hall operated and had an interest in several companies, including Freedom Consulting and Catering Co. and Total Government Allegiance, which, at various times during this period, provided goods and services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and its components. The goods and services were provided based on a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) to deliver bottled water and a contract to construct a security fence in Kuwait and elsewhere. A BPA is a type of contract by which the DoD agrees to pay a contractor a specified price for a particular good or service. Based on a BPA, the DoD orders the supplies on an as-needed basis. The contractor is then obligated to deliver the supplies ordered at the price agreed upon in the BPA. The term for such an order by the DoD is a “call.”
According to court documents, Ellis was Hall’s most senior employee. In that role, she was responsible for serving as the liaison between Hall and U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at Camp Arifjan. Ellis admitted that she participated in the bribery scheme by providing Momon and Murray access to secret bank accounts established on their behalf in the Philippines to enable Hall and others to transfer bribe payments to them. Ellis also admitted that, to further Hall’s unlawful dealings with Momon, she obtained confidential Army contract pricing information from Momon that was designed to give Hall an unlawful advantage in the bidding process for an ice contract from the DoD.
According to court documents, Hall obtained the calls made under the bottled water BPA and the fence contract by bribing certain U.S. Army contracting officers, including, among others, Momon and Murray. Assisted by Ellis, Hall paid Momon approximately $330,000 and Murray approximately $30,000. In exchange for these bribe payments, Momon arranged for the DoD to pay Hall’s companies more than $6.4 million based on calls for bottled water, and Murray arranged for the DoD to pay Hall to construct security fencing.
On Feb. 18, 2010, Hall pleaded guilty to bribery conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy and agreed to forfeit $15.7 million to the U.S. government in connection with his payment of more than $3 million in bribes to former U.S. Army Majors John Cockerham, Eddie Pressley, Momon and Murray.
On Aug. 13, 2009, Momon pleaded guilty to receiving approximately $1.6 million in bribes and agreed to pay $5.7 million in restitution. On Jan. 8, 2009, Murray pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and making a false statement. He was sentenced on Dec. 17, 2009, to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay $245,000 in restitution.
On Jan. 31, 2008, Cockerham pleaded guilty to participating in a bribery and money laundering scheme at Camp Arifjan. He was sentenced on Dec. 2, 2009, to 210 months in prison and ordered to pay $9.6 million in restitution.
The case against Hall’s co-defendants, Eddie Pressley and his wife, Eurica Pressley, is scheduled for trial Jan. 31, 2011, in Decatur, Ala. These defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya, Jr. and Peter C. Sprung of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by special agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Army Criminal Investigation Command Division, the FBI and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.