Former U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribe While Serving in Afghanistan
A former U.S. Air Force staff sergeant pleaded guilty today to seeking and receiving a bribe from an Afghan contractor while serving in Afghanistan. The sergeant worked at the Humanitarian Aid Yard (HA Yard) at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and was involved in the issuance of contracts to replenish supplies at the HA Yard under the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP). The sergeant is the eighth defendant to plead guilty in the investigation of this matter.
Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott of the Eastern District of California, Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko, Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU) and Colonel Kirk B. Stabler, Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) made the announcement.
David A. Turcios, 41, currently of San Jose, California, was charged in an indictment filed in July 2017 in the Eastern District of California with two counts of seeking and receiving bribes. The indictment charges him with seeking and receiving $8,500 in bribes from two Afghan contractors who sought contracts for companies with which they were associated. Turcios pleaded guilty to count two of the indictment before U.S. District Court Judge John A. Mendez of the Eastern District of California, in Sacramento. Turcios is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Mendez on Aug. 28.
Turcios admitted at the time of the guilty plea that, from November 2010 until November 2011, he worked as a U.S. Air Force staff sergeant at the HA Yard. He was the yard supervisor responsible for replenishing supplies such as rice, beans and clothing at the HA Yard and overseeing the loading of trucks that took the supplies off the base. During Turcios’s tenure, approximately nine contracts in which Turcios was involved were awarded to Afghan vendors with a value of over $2 million.
Turcios admitted that as part of his duties at the HA Yard, Turcios worked closely with, among others, an Afghan vendor (the Vendor) who sought to obtain contracts to replenish supplies in the HA Yard for companies with which he was associated. In September 2011, Turcios agreed to allow the Vendor to provide the names of the three companies to be selected on each of the replenishment contracts he oversaw, effectively allowing the Vendor to select the company awarded the respective contract. Because Turcios was nearing the end of his deployment in Afghanistan, he only had time to prepare approximately two contracts with the Vendor and, in October 2011, two contracts in which Turcios was involved were awarded to companies owned by individuals associated with the Vendor.
In late October or early November 2011, just prior to Turcios’s re-deployment to the United States, the Vendor offered Turcios $3,500 in return for Turcios’s actions on behalf of the Vendor as to HA Yard replenishment contracts, Turcios admitted. Turcios thereafter sent several emails urging U.S. Army officials to approve payments to the Vendor in connection with the Vendor’s HA Yard contracts and obtained from the U.S. Army a voucher authorizing payment to the Vendor. In February 2013, the Vendor wire transferred to Turcios’ wife’s bank account $500 of the $3,500 promised.
This matter was investigated by the FBI, SIGAR, DCIS, Army CID-MPFU and Air Force OSI. Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Yelovich of the Eastern District of California.