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Monday
Jul062015

Second guilty plea for bribes from Afghanistan humanitarian relief program

A sergeant currently assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy to commit bribery when he was buying humanitarian supplies while serving in Afghanistan.

Ramiro Pena Jr., 43, entered his plea in federal court in Kentucky to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery. 

His sentencing is scheduled for October 15.

In 2008 and 2009, Pena worked as a U.S. Army Sergeant First Class at the Humanitarian Assistance (HA) Yard at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. 

He and his supervisor, Army Master Sergeant Jimmy W. Dennis, were responsible for buying supplies from local vendors to support humanitarian relief in Afghanistan. 

Between June 2008 and March 2009, Pena and Dennis bought supplies worth more than $30 million.

Pena admitted taking money and jewelry from some vendors -- usually through Dennis.

"Specifically," the DOJ said, "Pena admitted that he received from the vendors, through Dennis, a Rolex watch in addition to $100,000 in bribe payments, which he received in approximately six installments."

Pena sent some of the cash to his family in Kentucky. He stuffed it in "numerous greeting cards to avoid drawing attention to the thickness of any particular envelope." 

Pena also bought himself a Harley Davidson motorcycle and paid living expenses for himself and his family.

In May 2014, Dennis pleaded guilty in the Western District of Tennessee to conspiracy to launder bribe payments. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison and was ordered to forfeit $115,000.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.