Friday, July 2, 2010

Army Officer pleads guilty to bribery charges in federal court

United States Army Captain Faustino L. Gonzales of Killeen, Texas, has pled guilty and admitted that in September 2006, he conspired with Chasib Mahdi d/b/a/ General Contracting Company, to receive cash bribes for awarding contracts under the Commander’s Emergency Relief Program for Iraq Reconstruction. Gonzales further admitted that the contracts he awarded to Mahdi, designated for projects near Forward Operating Base, Rustimaiyah, Iraq, were based on inflated prices. Gonzales also admitted that portions of the bribe money were deposited into banks accounts located in Killeen and San Antonio and that he used some of the bribe money to purchase a vehicle in Killeen.

Gonzales faces up to two years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine after admitting to receiving approximately $25,000 in kickbacks in exchange for awarding reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Sentencing is scheduled for 1:00 P.M. on September 8, 2010.

My take on the case: As a former active-duty Army JAG officer who prosecuted a number of officers, I can’t believe Captain Gonzales faces only up to two years of prison. I’ve seen court-martial panels hammer soldiers with much longer sentences for lesser crimes. This Army Captain should have had the book thrown at him. He breached the trust and integrity that we expect of officers. Also, the dirty little secret is that he will remain an Active duty Army officer until the Army gets around to administratively separating him. It’s unknown whether he will continue to draw his salary and benefits.

The case number (Waco Division) is 6:10-cr-00136.

Here is the press release from the US Attorney’s Office:

Gonzales Iraq Plea

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