U.S. Army Captain Pleads Guilty to Accepting Illegal Gratuities Related to Contracting in Support of Iraq War
WASHINGTON – A captain in the U.S. Army pleaded guilty in Alaska today for accepting thousands of dollars in gratuities from a contractor during his deployment to Iraq as a civil affairs officer at a forward operating base in Rustimaya, Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Kevin Feldis for the District of Alaska.
Michael George Rutecki, 33, of North Pole, Alaska, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Beistline in the District of Alaska to a criminal information charging him with one count of accepting illegal gratuities.
According to the court document, Rutecki was a pay agent responsible for directing Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds to pay contractors to perform work in accordance with civil development objectives set forth by U.S. Army commanders. Pay agents are accorded significant discretion in so doing. It is a violation of federal law for pay agents to accept personal gifts or gratuities from contractors dependent upon pay agents for contracts.
According to court documents, during and after the solicitation of contracts, Rutecki accepted cash and other things of value from an Iraqi contractor, including: $10,000 in cash, two silver rings with diamond stones, 15 gold coins worth more than $10,000 and other valuables from the contractor. Rutecki admitted that he took the valuables and money with the understanding and belief that they were for or because of his assistance to the contractor, who received the contract.
Rutecki faces up to two years in prison and a fine of $250,000. In addition, Rutecki agreed to forfeit all gratuities and pay $10,000 in restitution to the United States. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled by the court.
This case was prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney Mark Grider of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from SIGIR, with assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig M. Warner. The case is being investigated by the Major Procurement Fraud Unit, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.