Army Captain Gets Three Years for Taking Bribes

     MANHATTAN (CN) – An Army captain was sentenced today to three years in federal prison for taking bribes to steer Army contracts in Iraq.
     Bryant Williams demanded, and got, more than $30,000 in bribes to steer more than $930,000 worth of contracts while he served with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in 2005 and 2006, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
     Prosecutors hoped the judge would impose a sentence of roughly nine years.
     Williams, who is appealing his conviction, denied taking a “penny” in kickbacks from contractors.
     He insisted that the tens of thousands of dollars he kept locked in duffel bags came from winnings at the card game tonka, and that he hid the winnings because gambling violated Army policy.
     Williams said he played a lot of cards and his wife disapproved of his gambling as “risky.”
     A jury did not buy the gambling alibi and found him guilty in December 2010 of two corruption charges after a two-week trial.
     Harith Aljabawi and Mike Naji, who own Joshua Construction and Phoenix Contractors, respectively, said at trial that Williams threatened them at gunpoint into giving him a cut when they got contracts.
     Williams’ attorneys called contractors’ accusation “far-fetched,” and said they made the statements to avoid harsh sentencing for their own corruption.
     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.
     Defense attorney David Greenfield said that U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones granted Williams leniency at his sentencing based on the conduct of his life rather than the offenses.
     Defense memos argued that Williams should get leniency for his decades of military service, in which he received many awards and commendations.
     Williams, 40, had authority to buy supplies and services that cost less than $2,500 and to help solicit, select and oversee Army contract worth $2,500 to $200,000.
     “Williams forged bids on behalf of other companies, knowingly collected false and forged bids from certain contractors, and on one occasion, threatened a contractor with a firearm in the course of demanding payment of bribes,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said in announcing his sentence.
     Prosecutors had noted that Williams tried to conceal some of his payoffs by having one contractor send $20,000 in cash be an Iowa address and having another wire $12,000 from Dubai to another individual’s U.S. bank account. Williams is said to have collected the money when he returned to the United States.

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