ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal judge imposed a 10-year sentence on a former Army Reserve captain who pleaded guilty to heroin-trafficking and $1.3 million bribery conspiracies.
Sidharth Handa pleaded guilty in June to soliciting and accepting bribes while serving as a public official and to conspiring to distribute a kilogram of heroin.
In addition to the 10-year sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga, the 32-year-old Charlotte, N.C., resident must also pay $315,000.
Handa served an eight-month tour of Afghanistan in 2008. As liaison to the local governor and engineers on the Kunar Province Reconstruction Team, Handa helped select Afghan contractors to work on reconstruction projects funded by the U.S. government.
Contractors that wanted to skirt the competitive bidding process began bribing Handa almost immediately, usually paying him about 10 percent of the overall contract value. Handa and an Afghan interpreter solicited bribery commitments of $1.3 million, and they evenly split the $315,000 that they collected.
Handa admitted that he tried to collect the promised funds after leaving Afghanistan, recruiting the help of a co-conspirator who acted as a government cooperating witness. The pair also developed plans to sell Southeast Asian heroin by the kilogram to Handa’s drug contacts.
Officers took Handa down in an April 7, 2011, sting operation in which an undercover officer and the cooperating witness passed along $500,000 of supposed bribe payments and presented a kilogram of heroin.