Former US Navy officer Robert Jeffery, 55, was convicted today for his role in a scheme to steal fuel worth $39.6 million from the US Army in Iraq.
Jeffery was convicted of conspiracy and theft of government property after a two-day trial. The court in Alexandria, Virginia, heard that, between February and May 2008, Jeffery and his co-conspirators impersonated US Department of Defense contractors in order to steal large quantities of aviation and diesel fuel from a storage facility at an American military base near Baghdad airport.
Co-conspirators Lee William Dubois, Robert Young and Michel Jamil all pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme. Dubois said the group stole approximately 10 million gallons of fuel, and that he personally received at least $450,000 in profits from its sale on the black market. Young admitted he received approximately $1 million, and Jamil admitted to receiving between $75,000 and $87,500 in profits.
The six-year occupation of Iraq by US forces has been plagued by theft and corruption, much of it involving payoffs to military officers by private firms seeking a slice of the $18.4 billion assigned to Iraqi reconstruction by Congress in 2003.
A major problem has been money paid for phantom contracts - work that is simply never done. In a widely reported 2006 case, businessman David Bloom was convicted of bribing senior military officers with luxury cars and other gifts worth more than $2 million in return for contracts worth $8.6 million. A 2005 audit carried out by the Coalition Provisional Authority discovered that in 154 out of a sample of 198 contracts, there was no evidence that any goods or services had been delivered.
Jeffery will be sentenced on December 11. He faces a maximum of 15 years in jail.
(China.org.cn by John Sexton August 12, 2009))