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Press Release

Former Iraqi Subcontractor Found Guilty in Kickbacks Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Romanian citizen today for his role in a government contract kickback scheme that caused a loss of more than $3.4 million to the U.S. Department of State.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Emil Popsecu, 49, conspired to violate the Anti-Kickback Act related to the lease of real property in Iraq in 2011.

According to evidence adduced and presented at trial, a United States government contractor headquartered in Virginia and performing services for the U.S. Department of State in Iraq in 2011, was searching for real property to lease. A conspiracy formed between Wesley Aaron Struble, 49, a United States citizen living in Batangas, Phillipines, and Joes Rivera, 60, of Potomac, Maryland, both of whom were working as government contractors in Iraq. Struble and Rivera approached an Iraqi company and its associates and agreed to accept kickbacks in exchange for help in causing the U.S. State Department contractor to lease property that the Iraqi company controlled.

Emil Popescu was late recruited to the conspiracy and asked to open a bank account in Baghdad, Iraq. After a lease was signed between the U.S. State Department contractor and the Iraqi company, Popescu withdrew cash from the bank account and made kickback payments directly to Struble and Rivera. Popescu also facilitated other kickback payments by withdrawing money from the bank account and giving it to the Iraqi company knowing that kickback payments were owed to Struble and Rivera.

Prior to trial, Struble and Rivera each pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy and were sentenced to four years and three years in prison, respectively.

Popescu faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 23, 2018. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Steve A. Linick, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the verdict. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian D. Harrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly R. Pedersen prosecuted the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:17-cr-44 and 1:17-cr-052.


Joshua Stueve
Director of Communications

Updated November 30, 2017

Public Corruption