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The Green Valley Corruption Case

 

Background

Media Reports

Legal Documents

Other Documents

Photo Credits

 

Background

 

“Federal authorities examining the early, chaotic days of the $125 billion American-led effort to rebuild Iraq have significantly broadened their inquiry to include senior American military officers who oversaw the program, according to interviews with senior government officials and court documents. Court records show that last month investigators subpoenaed the personal bank records of Col. Anthony B. Bell, who is now retired from the Army but who was in charge of reconstruction contracting in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 when the small operation grew into a frenzied attempt to remake the country’s broken infrastructure. […]”

 

Excerpt of a New York Times article from February 15th, 2009.

Former Colonel Anthony Bell & former Major John Cockerham

 

Media Reports

 

December 12th, 2009 - Contractor Gets 9 Years in Army Bribery Case

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

December 3rd, 2009 - Iraq Bribery Nets 17½-Year Sentence

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

November 16th, 2009 - Kuwaiti Contractor Accused of Bilking Army

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

November 6th, 2009 - Feds File Suit Over Bribery Scheme in Iraq

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

September 9th, 2009 - Feds Scour Bank Records of Retired Army Colonel

1 news article from the Associated Press

 

July 29th, 2009 - Woman Admits Role in Iraq War Bribery Case

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

July 28th, 2009 - Cockerham Niece to Plead Guilty in Kickback Scheme

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

July 19th, 2009 - Firm Tied to Iraq Scandal Profited

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

February 15th, 2009 - Inquiry on Graft in Iraq Focuses on U.S. Officers

1 news article from the New York Times

 

June 26th, 2008 - Fort Sam Major Admits to Bribery

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

October 1st, 2007 - Company with Ties to Major Cries Foul

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

September 24th, 2007 - Graft in Military Contracts Spread from Base

1 news article from the New York Times

 

August 22nd, 2007 - U.S. Uncovers Iraq Bribe Case

1 news article from the Washington Post

 

August 16th, 2007 - Company in Bribe Scandal is Penalized

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

August 12th, 2007 - Accused Major Remains a Hometown Hero

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

August 1st, 2007 - Fort Sam Officer Tied to Millions in Bribes

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

July 28th, 2007 - S.A. Major’s Arrest is Linked to Iraq Reconstruction

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

July 23rd, 2007 - Major Jailed in Bribes Case

1 news article from San Antonio Express-News

 

 

Legal Documents

 

Criminal Case

U.S. vs. John Cockerham et al

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas/San Antonio Division

Case No.: 5:07-mj-00492-PMA

Filed on August 22nd, 2007

 

December 2nd, 2009 - Minute Entry

 

“[…] Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge W. Royal Furgeson, Jr:Sentencing held on 12/2/2009 for John Cockerham (1), Count(s) 1, 60 months imprisonment to run concurrent with Counts 4 & 5; 3 years supervised release to run concurrent with Counts 4 & 5; $100 special assessment; 9.6 million Restitution; Count(s) 2-3, 6, Dismissed by motion of Government; Count(s) 4, 180 months imprisonment to run concurrent with Counts 1 & 5; 3 years supervised release to run concurrent with Counts 1 & 5; $100 special assessment; Count(s) 5, 210 months imprisonment to run concurrent with Counts 1 & 4; 3 years supervised release to run concurrent with Counts 1 & 4; $100 special assessment. […]”

 

November 2nd, 2009 - Order Resetting Sentences

 

“[…] It is hereby ordered that the above entitled and numbered case is reset for sentencing in Courtroom 4, on the Third Floor of the John H. Wood, Jr. United States Courthouse, 655 E. Durango Boulevard, San Antonio, TX, on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 02:30 PM. […]”

 

October 9th, 2009 - Order & Preliminary Judgment of Forfeiture

 

“[…] Came on to be considered the United States of America’s Motion for Entry of a Preliminary Judgment of Forfeiture, pursuant to the provisions of Title 18 U.S.C. § 982(b)(l), Title 21 U.S.C. § 853 (n)(1)-(7) and Rule 32.2(b)(2), Fed.R.Crim.P., and this Court being fully and wholly apprised in all its premises finds that Defendants John Cockerham (1) and Melissa Cockerham (2) have an interest in the below-described property; that the United States has established by a preponderance of evidence a nexus between the below described property and currency and violations of Title 18 U.S.C. §§ 201, 371, 1956(h), and that said motion is meritorious and should be, and hereby is, in all things granted;

 

“It is therefore ordered […] that the United States Attorney General through its lawfully designated agents and agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and/or their designated custodians, shall seize, take custody, control and possession of the Subject Currency from said Defendants;

 

“[…] and it is further ordered that at the time of the sentencing of the Defendants John Cockerham (1) and Melissa Cockerham (2), the forfeiture of the Subject Real Properties and Subject Currency shall be included in both their Judgments in a Criminal Case.

 

“It is so ordered. […]”

 

April 8th, 2009 - Order resetting Sentencing

 

“[…] It is hereby ordered that the above entitled and numbered case is reset for sentencing in Courtroom 4, on the Third Floor of the John H. Wood, Jr. United States Courthouse, 655 E. Durango Boulevard, San Antonio, TX, on Friday, September 04, 2009 at 10:00 AM. […]”

 

February 1st, 2008 - Plea Hearing (Transcript)

 

August 22nd, 2007 - Indictment

 

“[…] 8. Paragraphs 1-7 of the Indictment are realleged and incorporated by reference as though fully set forth herein.

 

“9. From in or about 2004 until in or about July 2007, in the Western District of Texas, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere, defendants John Cockerham, Jr., Melissa Cockerham, Carolyn Blake and others did knowingly and unlawfully combine, conspire, confederate, and agree wi4 others known and unknown to the grand jury to:

 

“a) knowingly and willfully defiaud the United States by impairing, impeding, and defeating the lawful functions of the DoD; and

 

“b) commit an offense against the United States, that is, to directly and indirectly, corruptly demand, seek, receive, accept, and agree to receive and accept things of value, that is, among other things, cash, in refturn for being influenced in the performance of official acts, including awarding DoD contracts to the Co-conspirator Contractors and others at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait in violation of 18 U.S.C. 201(b)(2)(A). […]”

 

July 31st, 2007 - Order

 

“[…] A detention hearing was held on July 31, 2007, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 3142 (f)(2)(A). Having considered the testimony of the government’s witnesses, Special Agent Ray Rayos and Special Agent Richard Humphreys, the proffers of defendant’s witnesses, other proffered evidence, and arguments of counsel, the Court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there are no conditions which would reasonably assure defendant’s appearance if released. Accordingly, for the reasons set forth below, it is ordered that defendant be detained without bond or other conditions of release pending trial of this cause […]

 

“[…] The Court finds that the evidence adduced at the detention hearing established, by preponderance of the evidence, there exists no condition or combination of conditions that will assure defendant’s appearance if he is released prior to trial. […] There is evidence that both John Cockerham and Melissa Cockerham were involved in the laundering of a significant sum of money. The sworn affidavit in support of the complaint represents that defendant and his wife have ‘laundered millions of dollars in illegal bribe proceeds ...’ […]. When interviewed by law enforcement officers in December 2006, when a federal search warrant was executed at defendants’ residence on post at Fort Sam Houston and on the following day, defendant Melissa Cockerham admitted she received more than $1 million on behalf of defendant John Cockerham and placed the money in safe deposit boxes in Kuwait and Dubai. In a separate interview on that same occasion, defendant John Cockerham admitted he arranged for defendant Melissa Cockerham to receive this money, reflecting bribe payments from military contractors in exchange for military contracts. During the search officers obtained financial evidence and other documents to show John Cockerham received significantly more money in bribe payments from many more contractors than he admitted in December 2006. For example, according to a handwritten ledger uncovered in the search, Melissa Cockerham received $2.1 million (from four contractors and perhaps others) and John Cockerham received $9.6 million in bribe payments from at least eight contractors and anticipated receiving $5.4 million more.

 

“In addition to evidence of very large sums of fully negotiable cash money which defendants John and Melissa Cockerham are charged with laundering, there is substantial evidence of the use of banking institutions and safety deposit boxes located in other countries. Evidence seized in the December 2006 search uncovered evidence that large sums of money were deposited in safety deposit boxes and banks in the Middle East and that defendant pursued opening at least two offshore bank accounts in the Caribbean, the First Caribbean International Bank in the Caymans (account application documents in the name of ‘John Cockerham’ seized) and the First Curacao International Bank (account opening confirmation documents in the name of ‘M. Cockerham’ seized). In addition to documents involving foreign financial institutions recovered in the December search - for example, a receipt from the Jordan National Bank, Jabl al-Hussein Branch, reflecting a May 23, 2005, deposit of $240,000 in United States currency into a safe deposit box in the name of Person A, an unidentified associate of defendants - Melissa Cockerham told interviewing agents in December 2006, that she opened a bank account and obtained a safe deposit box at the Commercial Bank of Kuwait and she placed a bag containing approximately $800,000 in Kuwaiti and United States currency into the safe deposit box in approximately 2004. […]”

 

July 21st, 2007 - Criminal Complaint

 

“[…] 2. Special Agents with Army CID, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (‘DCIS’); the Department of Homeland Security (‘DHS’), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (‘ICE’); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (‘FBI’); the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations Division (‘IRS’); and the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (‘SIGIR’), in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust and Criminal Divisions (‘DOJ’) are conducting an investigation into U.S. military employees who participated in the rigging of DoD contracts in Kuwait and Iraq in return for U.S. and Kuwaiti companies paying these officials bribes during their deployment to Iraq and Kuwait and thereafter. As described more fully below, I have probable cause to believe that John Cockerham (‘J. Cockerham’), a Major in the United States Army, accepted cash from contractors in Kuwait in return for awarding contracts to them and that J. Cockerham, his wife Melissa Cockerham (‘M. Cockerham’), and his sister Carolyn Blake (‘Blake’) laundered millions of dollars in illegal bribe proceeds that J. Cockerham was given, resulting in violations of 18 U.S.C. § 201 (bribery), 18 U.S.C. § 371 (fraud against tbe United States and conspiracy); and 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (h) (money laundering conspiracy). I also have probable cause to believe that fruits, instrumentalities, and evidence of this conduct will be located at [redacted] Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas, 78234 (the ‘Subject Property’). […]”

 

 

Other Documents

 

November 5th, 2009 - U.S. Sues Former Army Officer & Firms in Connection with Bribery Scheme

Press Release by the U.S. Department of Justice

 

“A civil lawsuit was filed today against a former U.S. Army officer and three contracting firms related to an alleged bribery scheme in connection with the awarding of contracts for services in Kuwait. Former Army officer John Cockerham Jr., who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges along with another former officer, James Momon Jr.

 

“The government’s complaint alleges that from 2004 to 2006, several Kuwaiti companies, including Green Valley Co., Palm Springs General Trading and Contracting Establishment and Jireh Springs General Trading and Contracting Establishment, engaged in a bribery scheme with Cockerham and Momon in exchange for their promises to award Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs) for the purchase of bottled water, tents and wastewater removal services from Kuwaiti-based Army camps. A BPA is a simplified acquisition method that federal agencies use to fill anticipated repetitive needs for supplies or services.

 

“The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, alleges that defendant Saud Al Tawash provided payments to Cockerham’s sister, Carolyn Blake, in exchange for BPAs awarded to or performed by Green Valley, Palm Springs and Jireh Springs, companies which he owned, controlled, or had an interest, according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges Mohammed Howaiji, Green Valley’s assistant manager, and Joseph E. Nakouzi, its head supervisor, agreed to pay Cockerham $300,000 in exchange for the BPAs. According to the complaint, Cockerham awarded the BPAs to Green Valley at inflated prices. The complaint charges that after Momon replaced Cockerham as the Army’s contracting officer, he also took over the bribery scheme and received $510,000 from Green Valley.

 

“The government’s complaint further alleges that Jamal Al Dhama, the manager of Jireh Springs, promised Cockerham $1.5 million to award a BPA to that firm. Saud Al Tawash, acting on behalf of Jireh Springs, later offered Momon a bribe for Momon’s assistance in obtaining payment for Jireh Springs on a bottled water delivery, according to the lawsuit. […]”

 

March 2nd, 2009 - Declaration of Special Agent James J. Crowley

 

“[…] 5. Anthony Bell is a former Colonel in the U.S. Army assigned as the Head of the Contracting Activity for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq from June 29, 2003 to March 15, 2004.

 

“6. As a Contracting Officer for the CPA, Anthony Bell entered into contracts for reconstruction projects in Iraq using funds designated by the United States for Iraq reconstruction.

 

“7. In 2004, SIGIR received information from a confidential source that Anthony Bell and another individual were improperly receiving kickbacks in connection with certain contracts entered into in Iraq.

 

“8. The confidential source was killed in Iraq after he met with U.S. officials.

 

“9. During the course of the investigation. SIGIR obtained information relating to Anthony Bell’s bank accounts from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the sub-agency of the Department of Defense responsible for processing pay and other benefits to civilian and military employees.

 

“10. Such information reflected that Anthony Bell held accounts at Suntrust Bank and National Bank of Commerce.

 

“11. Accordingly, SIGIR determined that these accounts may reflect that Anthony Bell deposited funds obtained illegally. […]”

 

January 9th, 2009 - Customer Notice

Letter by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction

 

“[…] Dear Mr. Bell:

 

“Records or information concerning your transactions held by the financial institution named in the attached subpoena are being sought by the Special Inspector General of Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), in accordance with the Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978, 12 U.S.C. Sections 3401 - 3422, for the following purpose(s):

 

“Investigations of violations of Title 18 USC 201 (BriberyIKickbacks) and Title 18 USC 1031 (Major Fraud Against the US). […]”

 

2006 - Bribe Ledger

Notes by John Cockerham

 

 

Photo Credits

 

Background

 

1) Left: Former U.S. Army Colonel Anthony B. Bell - undated - U.S. Army;

2) Army Maj. John L. Cockerham, 41, a contracting and procurement officer assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, is escorted to a van outside the federal courthouse in San Antonio. Cockerham, his wife and his sister were arrested as a result of an investigation into an Army contract-rigging and bribery case that was described by a federal official as the largest to emerge from the Iraq reconstruction effort. - July 25th, 2007 - John Davenport/The San Antonio Express-News, via Associated Press;

 

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