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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 9, 2015

Former Army Sergeant Sentenced On His Guilty Plea To Money Laundering Conspiracy Resulting From Bribes Sergeant Received In Afghanistan

MEMPHIS, TENN. - Earlier today at the federal courthouse in Memphis, Tennessee, a former First Sergeant with the U.S. Army was sentenced on his guilty plea to conspiracy to launder approximately $250,000 in bribe payments he received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan.

United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Edward L. Stanton III, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee William C. Killian made the announcement.

Jimmy W. Dennis, 44, of Olive Branch, Mississippi, and a former First Sergeant with the U.S. Army, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Samuel H. Mays, Jr., to 41 months and was ordered to forfeit $115,000.

“Instead of serving his country, Jimmy Dennis betrayed it by accepting bribes and selfishly lining his pockets with hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton. “Today’s sentence should serve as a constant reminder that we and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate corruption of any kind and are determined to hold corrupt officials accountable.”

According to court filings, from March 2008 through March 2009, Dennis was an Army Sergeant assigned as a paying agent in the Humanitarian Aid Yard at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. Dennis was part of the team in the HA Yard that purchased supplies from local Afghan vendors for distribution as part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for urgent humanitarian relief requirements in Afghanistan. Dennis helped steer contracts to certain Afghan vendors in return for about $250,000 in cash bribes.

Further, according to court pleadings, Dennis smuggled the bribe money back to the U.S. hidden in packages addressed to his wife, his father, Jerry W. Dennis, and a former Army friend, James C. Pittman. Dennis sent about $80,000 to $100,000 to his father from Afghanistan in packages that contained toy “Jingle Trucks” (colorfully decorated trucks or buses used in Afghanistan and Pakistan). Dennis hid the money in the rear compartment of the trucks. Dennis also shipped a “Hope Chest” to his father, with about $100,000 in cash in a concealed compartment.

Also according to court documents, while on leave, Dennis met with Pittman, advised him that he had obtained money through kickbacks, and asked him for help laundering the funds. Pittman, owner of a landscaping business, agreed to “run through his company” these bribery proceeds. After returning to Afghanistan, Dennis sent about $60,000 to Pittman in Jingle Trucks. Dennis also arranged for his father to send about $20,000 to Pittman, who returned it to them in the form of “salary” checks from Pittman’s company.

Jerry Dennis, 69 or Horn Lake, Mississippi, was sentenced today by Judge Mays to two years probation, including six months of home confinement and ordered to forfeit $110,000. Pittman, 45 of Rossville, Georgia, was sentenced on September 8, 2014, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by U.S. District Court Judge Harry S. Mattice, Jr., to one year and a day and ordered to forfeit $25,000.

This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, FBI, Army Criminal Investigative Division, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Air Force Office of Special Investigation. The government’s case was prosecuted by Western District Assistant U.S. Attorney Frederick Godwin, Eastern District Assistant U.S. Attorney James Brooks, and Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

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Updated April 21, 2015