Two U.S. servicemen and several contractors exchanged nearly $100,000 to arrange contracts worth more than $1 million at an airfield in Afghanistan, according to bribery and conspiracy indictments unsealed Wednesday.
The two military personnel and a co-conspirator allegedly accepted three payments of $30,000, one payment for each of three Department of Defense contracts at Bagram Airfield, according to the indictments unsealed at the U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Charged are Maj. Christopher P. West of Chicago and Sgt. Patrick W. Boyd of Rockledge, Fla., who were arraigned before Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan. Also arraigned Wednesday were contractors Abdul Qudoos Bahkshi and Noor Alam of Afghanistan, along with Tahir Ramin of Pennsylvania and Afghanistan.
The contractors were arrested Monday as they arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. A fourth contractor, Assad John Ramin of Afghanistan, Tahir Ramin's brother, had not been arrested as of Wednesday. West served with the Illinois National Guard at the airfield and was arrested Monday. Boyd was arrested Tuesday.
Another Ramin brother, Zuhir Ramin, 36, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he doesn't know about the accusations against his relatives.
"I can't even understand it," Zuhir Ramin told the newspaper in a story posted on its Web site.
There were no phone listings available for Christopher P. Smith in Chicago or Patrick W. Boyd in Rockledge.
During 2004 and 2005, the Ramins paid West, Boyd and the co-conspirator $30,000 for a contract to supply the airfield with bunkers and barriers, structures used for force protection, and perimeter walls, the indictment alleges.
Separately, the indictment says Alam and his company, Northern Reconstruction Organization, paid West, Boyd and a co-conspirator $30,000 for a contract to provide asphalt paving services at the airfield. Qudoos and his Naweed Bahkshi Co. are accused of paying West, Boyd and a co-conspirator $30,000 for a second asphalt paving contract.
"These contracts were meant to protect U.S. soldiers serving their country, and we will not tolerate corruption that deprives the troops of the benefits of competitively sourced goods and services," Thomas O. Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Defense's Antitrust Division, said in a news release Wednesday.
Those indicted face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the bribery charges, and up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charges, according to the Department of Defense. The companies, Northern Reconstruction Organization and Naweed Bahkshi, could face fines up to $500,000 on similar charges.