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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Army Captain Faces 35 Years For|Bribing Military Contractors in Iraq

MANHATTAN (CN) - A jury convicted U.S. Army Capt. Bryant Williams on Friday of both counts of bribing and accepting kickbacks from military contractors in Iraq from 2005 to 2006.

Williams was charged with honest services mail fraud and unlawful demand for payment by a public official. The verdict comes a day after jurors told U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones that they were "deadlocked" and sought advice about the distinction between "reasonable doubt" and "all possible doubt."

"Bryant Williams abused his position of authority to extract bribes from military contractors and to enrich himself in the process," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "Today's guilty verdict sends a strong message that neither law enforcement officials nor juries will tolerate corrupt actors in our military."

Harith Aljabawi and Mike Naji, who own Joshua Construction and Phoenix Contractors, respectively, said that Williams coerced and threatened them into giving him a cut when they entered into contracts in his unit.

Aljabawi, who pleaded guilty to accepting $500,000 in corrupt contract money, testified against Williams as part of a cooperation agreement with the government. Naji also testified as part of a non-prosecution agreement.

Williams denied taking a "penny" in kickbacks from contractors. He said that the tens of thousands of dollars in his possession came from months of winnings at the card game Tonka, and that he hid the winnings from the Army because it violated policy.

As a Louisiana resident, Williams said, he played a lot of cards, and his wife disapproved of his habits as "risky."

The honest services mail fraud charge carries a maximum 20-year sentence, and the bribery charge carries a possible 15 years.

Defense attorney David Greenfield was not immediately available for comment to an e-mail inquiy.

Williams will be sentenced on March 18, 2011.

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