A former Army Corps of Engineers employee has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks on federal contracts in Iraq, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul J. Fishman said.
Judge Jose L. Linares imposed the sentence on March 12 in federal district court in Newark, N.J.
The Dept. of Justice said ex-Corps project engineer John Alfy Salama Markus had pleaded guilty last September to three counts of a 54-count indictment that included charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery.
The Justice Dept., citing documents filed in the case and statements in court, said Salama Markus took at least $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks from July 2007 to June 2008 related to Corps of Engineers contracts in Iraq totaling more than $50 million.
The contracts were awarded to companies associated with Ahmed Nouri, a British citizen and former vice president of Iraqi Consultants and Construction Bureau; and Mithaq Al-Fahal, an Iraqi citizen and a senior project manager at Sakar Al-Fahal, which DOJ has described as "a privately owned foreign engineering and construction company." Mithaq Al-Fahal also controlled Dar Al Jubori Co.
Justice said Salama Markus admitted he drew up a plan to help Nouri and Al-Fahal, including obtaining and providing bid and pricing information to people seeking to win Corps contracts for their companies. In exchange, DOJ said, Salama Markus took bribes and kickbacks from foreign contractors.
For example, DOJ said he demanded and accepted bribes totaling nearly $2 million in connection with $19.6 million in contracts awarded to companies associated with Al-Fahal for constructing segments of a pipeline from Baghdad to Bayji.
In addition to the prison term, Linares sentenced Salama Markus to three years of supervised release and fined him $75,000. Salama Markus also agreed to a judgment of $3.7 million, part of which will come from forfeiting his $1.1-million home in Nazareth, Pa., five vehicles and two motorcycles.
U.S. Attorney Fishman said in a statement: “The court’s lengthy sentence recognizes the significant harm Salama Markus caused when he corrupted tens of millions in Iraq construction contracts by treating projects to secure safe access to fuel, electricity, education and medical treatment as opportunities for illegally amassing personal wealth."