Ex-government official charged with stealing more than $1 million from global health program

A former official with a government contracting firm and his wife have been charged with stealing more than $1 million from a government program aimed at addressing global health issues such as AIDS.

Mark Adams, 43, former deputy director at a private contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, pleaded not guilty to the charges Wednesday, as did his wife, Latasha Bell, 36. Both live in Fort Washington, Md.

A grand jury indictment accuses Adams and Bell of using the money to purchase two luxury cars worth more than $110,000, and to renovate their home. The 23-count indictment was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Charges against Adams and Bell include conspiracy, wire fraud, mail fraud, theft from a program receiving federal funds, conspiracy to launder money and aggravated identity theft.

The indictment alleges that Adams used his position at the contracting firm, which is not identified by name, to submit and approve false and fraudulent invoices worth more than $1 million between 2005 and 2010. The invoices claimed to pay for services by his wife and companies controlled by his friends, according to the government, which says the services were never provided.

Lawyers for Adams and Bell did not immediately reply to messages left Wednesday night.