Staff Sergeant Pleads Guilty in Army Finance Office Misconduct
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 19, 2013|
RALEIGH- United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Jason Begany, 31, of Erwin, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to converting property of another that came into his possession as a result of his employment with a department of the United States and aiding and abetting another, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 654 and 2.
United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker reflected, “Public corruption such as this defendant’s criminal conduct undermine our nation’s reconstruction efforts overseas and dishonors the sacrifice our military makes every day.”
According to the criminal information filed on February 5, 2013, and information provided in open court today, Begany, a staff sergeant in the United States Army and deployed with the 82nd Finance Battalion to Kabul, Afghanistan, was the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Camp Eggers Finance Office. Working in his position in the Finance Office, he, along with Sergeants Edwin Vando and Juan Lamboy-Rivera (both of whom previously pled guilty to the same offense), was responsible for ensuring that authorized contract payments were made to vendors, such as Abdul Wasi Faqiri Company Ltd., who provided a variety of military apparel and equipment.
In May 2009, a representative from Abdul Wasi Faqiri Company Ltd., contacted the Camp Eggers Finance Office regarding a possible overpayment of $1,297,959.31. Begany, Vando, Lamboy-Rivera, and an interpreter were tasked with reviewing the contract to determine if an overpayment had been made. Begany, Vando, Lamboy-Rivera, and the interpreter determined that there was not an overpayment but thereafter devised a plan to steal the money. Begany, through the interpreter, contacted the vendor, claimed that an overpayment had been made, and directed the vendor to wire the money to a specific bank account. The bank account was set up by the interpreter to facilitate the theft. The interpreter then withdrew approximately $500,000 from the account, met Vando at the gates to Camp Eggers, and gave approximately $400,000 to Vando. Vando concealed the money in a backpack and gave the money to Begany. Begany, Vando, and Lamboy-Rivera shared the money. They purchased rugs and shipped some of the rugs to the United States.
Begany’s commanding officer became aware of the theft and reported it to authorities. An investigation ensued, and on June 13, 2009, law enforcement recovered $297,680 from Begany. Law enforcement also recovered money orders from Vando and Lamboy-Rivera as well as the rugs purchased with the money. In addition, law enforcement recovered $897,960 from the interpreter.
At sentencing set for the court’s June 17, 2013 term of court, Begany faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment, followed by up to three years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Vando and Lamboy-Rivera have also been charged and are currently awaiting sentencing.
Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office, commented, “By giving in to greed and dishonesty, SSG Begany tarnished the professional reputation and prestige of the U.S. Armed Forces, while taking advantage of the very Afghan citizens whose trust we were trying to gain. Resulting from a lengthy and exhaustive investigation, this guilty plea reinforces that DCIS agents’ relentless pursuit of violators, through multiple resources and partnerships, has proven highly effective in recovering precious American taxpayer dollars stolen or diverted through fraud and corruption.”
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the United States Department of Army-Criminal Investigation Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan prosecuted the case.