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Press Release

Former Iraqi Subcontractor Sentenced for Kickbacks Conspiracy

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

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Romanian citizen was sentenced today to three years in prison 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 Jose Rivera, 57, of Potomac, Maryland, both of whom were working as government contractors in Iraq. Struble approached an Iraqi company and its associates and, along with Rivera, agreed to accept kickbacks in exchange for help in causing the U.S. Department of State contractor to lease property that the Iraqi company controlled.

Emil Popescu was recruited into the conspiracy and hired as the Director of Operations for the Iraqi company to negotiate the lease. After a lease was signed between the U.S. Department of State contractor and the Iraqi company, Popescu withdrew cash from a bank account he opened in Baghdad in his name 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 Popescu’s trial, Struble and Rivera each pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy and were sentenced to four years and three years in prison, respectively.

Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Acting 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 sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. 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 February 23, 2018

Public Corruption