Heckuva Job, Boys!
A former American occupation official in Iraq is expected to plead guilty to bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and other charges in federal court on Thursday for his actions in a scheme to use sexual favors, jewelry and millions of dollars in cash to steer reconstruction work to a corrupt contractor, according to papers filed with the court.
The official, Robert J. Stein Jr., served as a comptroller and funding officer in 2003 and 2004 for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which governed Iraq after the American-led invasion. Four Americans, including Mr. Stein and the contractor, Philip H. Bloom, have been arrested in the case. Mr. Stein's plea, apparently with the understanding that he will cooperate with prosecutors, is the first to be made public.
The court papers depict a sordid exercise in greed and corruption that was spread much more widely that previously known. Including the four people already arrested, the papers indicate that a minimum of three other still unnamed co-conspirators also played a role in the scheme. In order to give more than $8 million in contracts and millions more in stolen cash to Mr. Bloom, the papers say, the conspirators accepted bribes, valuable goods and other favors.
This racket makes Cunningham look like an amateur:
The goods included first-class plane tickets, watches and other jewelry, alcohol and cigars, the court papers say. They add that Mr. Bloom kept a villa in Baghdad where women dispensed "sexual favors" in exchange for official actions in his favor or for refraining from exposing the scheme.
...The e-mail exchanges between Mr. Stein and Mr. Bloom, as detailed in the papers, are remarkable in their illustration of the daily business of apparently greed and graft. "I love to give you money," Mr. Stein wrote on Jan. 3, 2004, as he began steering work on an Iraqi police academy to Mr. Bloom.
At other times, Mr. Stein warns Mr. Bloom about others who are threats to expose their scheme or may want to get in on it themselves. "I will warn you to be very careful what you say around him," Mr. Stein writes on Jan. 27, 2004, about someone identified only as person D. "If he ever knows what we are doing he will want 'his cut!'"
Tags: Iraq, CPA, Coalition Provisional Authority, Bush, corruption