February 9, 2007
Five More Indicted for Fraud in Iraq Rebuilding
The Department of Justice announced the indictment of five more defendants for fraud involving the Coalition Provisional Authority-Southern Command in Iraq. Three were senior Army officers, Colonel Curtis G. Whiteford and Lt. Colonels Debra M. Harrison and Michael B. Wheeler, and two are civilians, Michael Morris and William Driver; Harrison and Driver are married. A press release (here) discusses the charges in the 25-count federal indictment filed in New Jersey:
Whiteford, once the second-most senior official at CPA-SC, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, and 11 counts of honest services wire fraud. Harrison, at one time the acting Comptroller at CPA-SC who oversaw the expenditure of CPA-SC funds for reconstruction projects, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, 11 counts of honest services wire fraud, four counts of interstate transport of stolen property, one count of bulk cash smuggling, four counts of money laundering, and one count of preparing a false tax form. Wheeler, an advisor for CPA projects for the reconstruction of Iraq, was charged with one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, 11 counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of interstate transport of stolen property, and one count of bulk cash smuggling.
Three others involved in the case have already entered guilty pleas, with Robert Stein, the former comptroller for the CPA-SC, sentenced to nine years in prison. According to the indictment, Harrison and Driver "allegedly received a Cadillac Escalade as a bribe and used tens of thousands of dollars for improvements to their home in Trenton. Whiteford allegedly received at least $10,000 in cash, a $3,200 watch, a job offer from [a coconspirator], and other valuables." (ph)
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Tracked on Feb 11, 2007 4:56:57 AM
I am amazed that the day after the CPA gets grilled that indictments are brought against these individuals accused. What a coincidence.
I know two of the people indicted. Lt Col Debra Harrison is my sister, and her husband William Driver.
She is a decorated officer. She earned her Purple Heart. She was ambushed twice. The second time after her tour in Iraq ended, and she extended.
I do know that my sister did not know that anything was wrong at CPA-SC. She was only there a couple of months at the end as the CPA shut down. She made the mistake of extending her service to help with that process.
Debra broke inside after her second ambush. She was with strangers. She couldn't sleep. She took every pill, and drank every drop of alcohol she could get. She worked to numb herself. She wanted to die, but not in Iraq.
I do know that she was abandoned by the United States when she was told to find her own way home. She received an email telling her there was no room for her on the cargo plane for her return. There was room for every CPA person scheduled to leave from Bagdad, but not my sister and four other soldiers. Yet, part of the indictment against her says she used a plane ticket purchased with CPA money. She did not purchase that ticket, but she did use it. It was her only way out, and she was instructed to use that ticket.
It was so dangerous at that time that the Department of Justice Auditors were too afraid to come to Hillah to go through the papers. They told my sister to bring it all to them in the safety of the Green Zone. No one reported to my sister, and she had no one to report to. The Colonel in charge, Michael Whitehead, was gone, the Comptroller, Robert Stein, was gone. How in the world was she to get that huge amount of information to Baghdad from Hillah by herself. She couldn't do it.
She suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and receives treatment for that disorder through the VA.
Hold off on any criticism of any soldier accused in this mess. I know for a fact that the accusations against my sister are false. No matter what the Department of Justice asserts. Keep in mind, they are the same people who vetted Robert J Stein to be in carge of the CPA-SC operation. My sister certainly didn't know that the man who told her what to do was a convicted felon.
These guys in their double breasted suits and shiny black shoes need to get a reality check.
Posted by: Jan | Feb 9, 2007 4:46:59 PM