A former employee of the major contracting firm DynCorp International admitted Monday that while working in Iraq, he helped cheat the State Department out of millions of dollars.
Jose Rivera, 57, of Potomac, Md., pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court to conspiracy to defraud the United States, acknowledging that he helped convince his bosses to rent a camp at Baghdad International Airport for a grossly inflated price. He agreed to cooperate against the other defendants in the scheme.
The State Department ultimately footed the bill for the site as part of a training program for Iraqi police, paying $5,320,000 in rent for the property from September 2011 through April 2014.
Rivera said in court that Emil Popescu, a Romanian contractor in the process of being extradited to the United States, paid him in cash as part of the scheme. Rivera said he only counted the first payment of $15,000 but accepted a government estimate of having received a total of $250,000.
“I have no idea how much money I received,” he said. “I never counted anything.”
Rivera testified that he carried some of the money with him when he flew home. At other times, he hid the cash inside speakers he bought on base and mailed home to his family. He used some of the money to buy a $35,000 motorcycle.
Wesley Struble, 49, pleaded guilty in the scam in July, to conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Act, and was sentenced to four years in prison. He was also ordered to pay approximately $3.4 million in restitution. Struble’s mother and sister pleaded guilty to lying in front of a grand jury to help cover up his crime.
Popescu, Rivera and Struble shared the profits with Iraqi co-conspirators, according to prosecutors.
Rivera will be sentenced Oct. 6.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Rachel Weiner