(CN) - A retired Army major admitted to laundering money when serving in Kuwait during the Iraq war, as part of a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme over bottled-water contracts.
Charles Bowie Jr. pleaded guilty in San Antonio's District Court to receiving $400,000 in exchange for the water contract, the Justice Department announced.
Bowie served in Kuwait from 2004 to 2005 where he befriended Army Major John Cockerham, who prosecutors say received more than $9 million in bribes for awarding bottled-water contracts during the Iraq war. Cockerham was sentenced to 210 months in prison in December 2009.
As an Army contracting officer in Kuwait, Cockerham was responsible for "reviewing, awarding and making purchases against large dollar value contracts and blanket purchase agreements," court documents say.
Cockerham said he would award the blanket purchase agreement to Bowie's company, Triad United Technologies, which Bowie understood to be "outside the normal, competitive contracting process."
Authorities say Cockerham ordered contractors to pay Bowie and other conspirators to conceal the receipt of bribe payments under a fake "consulting" agreement.
"I have 4 eggs that is sitting in the fridge, need your assistance to get them out," Bowie wrote in a coded e-mail to Cockerham in December of 2005. Prosecutors say each "egg" represented a $100,000 payment.
Cockerham wrote back: "[T]here has been a delay in eggs sales right now. I have talked with the sales rep and the [sic] assume me that the orders are good. It's just a supply and demand."
No sentencing date has been scheduled, but Bowie faces up to 10 years in prison. He agreed to forfeit the $400,000 he made illegally.
The case was prosecuted by Richard Evans, Mark Pletcher and Emily Allen.