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U.S. gov't contractor in Afghanistan pleads guilty to $250K scheme

By Ray Downs
U.S. gov't contractor in Afghanistan pleads guilty to $250K scheme
Senior Airman Tyler Phillips, 451st Expeditionary Support Squadron response force member, monitors his team's security sector at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Nov. 5. On July 18, the Department of Justice announced a former U.S. government subcontractor in Afghanistan pleaded guilty to an illegal kickback scheme. File Photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa/U.S. Air Force/UPI | License Photo

July 19 (UPI) -- A former employee of a U.S. government contractor in Afghanistan pleaded guilty to accepting more than $250,000 in illegal kickbacks from a subcontractor, in exchange for assistance in obtaining government contracts, officials said.

According to the Department of Justice, Nebraska McAlpine, 56, of Smyrna, Ga., admitted that he and an Afghan executive agreed to a deal that would give McAlpine cash in exchange for no-bid contracts.

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The name of the executive and the subcontracting company paying for access to more U.S. government contracts was not included in the DOJ statement.

As a result of the kickback scheme, the U.S. government contractor McAlpine worked for paid over $1.6 million to the subcontractor "to assist with maintaining the Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior Ultra-High Frequency radio communications system in Kabul, Afghanistan," the statement said.

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McAlpine said he agreed to accepting 15 percent of the value of the subcontracts, totaling more than $250,000 from 2015 to 2016.

McAlpine "hid these kickbacks from his employer by storing the cash payments in his personal effects and then physically transporting them himself to the U.S." the DOJ said. "McAlpine further admitted that he then deposited the majority of these funds in amounts less than $10,000 into his bank accounts at bank branches in the Atlanta metropolitan area."

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Since the U.S. military invasion of Afghanistan, illegal kickback schemes involving government contractors have been rather commonplace.

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In 2014, Robert L. Bertolini, a former project manager of a U.S. construction company, pleaded guilty to accepting $60,000 in bribes from an Afghan subcontractor. In return, he approved two contracts worth more than $1.5 million.

In 2013, Donald Gene Garst was sentenced to 30 months in prison for attempting to smuggle $150,000 in illegal kickbacks back to the U.S.

Between 2005 and 2015, the total dollar amount of convicted crimes committed by U.S. soldiers and U.S. government contractors in Afghanistan for theft, bribery, and contract-rigging has been valued at $52 million, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

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