Maureen O’Donnell / Chicago Sun-Times – 2011-12-26 19:06:36
CHICAGO (December 25, 2011) — A Chicago man who is a former major in the Army National Guard has been sentenced to five years in prison for taking kickbacks from military defense contractors while deployed in Afghanistan.
Christopher P. West is the eighth co-conspirator sentenced in the scheme. Ten more defendants still await sentencing.
West — who admitted taking tens of thousands of dollars in bribes — also was ordered by US District Judge Matthew Kennelly to pay $500,000 in restitution and given an additional two years of supervised release.
West had pleaded guilty in 2009 to eight counts of bribery, conspiracy and fraud.
West and his assistant, Illinois National Guard Lt. Robert Moore of Chicago, signed bogus approvals for bunkers and barriers that were never delivered to the US military’s Bagram Air Base, according to the US Department of Justice. The contractors made a profit by billing for the non-existent supplies, and West and Moore received kickbacks in return, according to court documents.
West, Moore and another defendant — Sgt. Patrick W. Boyd of Rockledge, Fla. — also approved contracts to three suppliers and then pocketed $30,000 each, according to the Justice Department.
West and Moore mailed their cash back to Chicago, prosecutors said. In 2005, a package belonging to Moore and containing more than $10,000 was intercepted by authorities at London’s Heathrow Airport, officials said.
Boyd has been sentenced to 40 months in prison, and Moore received a 15-month prison term.
The prosecution also netted an Afghan defense supplier who pleaded guilty to bribing West to arrange contracts worth $1 million. Noor Alam was arrested at O’Hare Airport in 2008 after investigators lured him and other Afghan contractors to the United States with an invitation to what turned out to be a bogus seminar in Columbus, Ohio. The fake invitation said Alam was to be honored at the event as a contractor “who best represent(s) the cooperative nature of our . . . reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.”
West allegedly told one contractor that he saw Afghanistan as his chance to get rich.
West and the contractor “discussed the history of America and how it was built on the back of others, ultimately concluding that â€˜fleecing the government’ was the American way,” prosecutors said in a court filing.
Copyright 2011 — Sun-Times Media, LLC
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.