Fort Campbell Army Sergeant Charged with Taking Bribes While Serving in Afghanistan
PADUCAH, KY—Acting United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. today announced charges against a Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Army Sergeant for his role as a public official, for conspiring with another to commit an offense against the United States, namely bribery.
According to the federal information, filed in U.S. District court today in Paducah, Kentucky, Ramiro Pena, Jr., age 43, received and accepted illegal bribes totaling $100,000 U.S. currency and a Rolex watch, in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act, that is, ensuring the successful approval and processing of contracts to restock supplies while serving at Humanitarian Air Yard (“HA Yard”) at Bagram Airfield (“Bagram”) in Afghanistan.
From January 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009, Pena worked as a U.S. Army Sergeant First Class at the HA Yard at Bagram as a Project Purchasing Officer (“PPO”) who maintained the supply orders and made sure the inventory levels were never low. Pena’s supervisor at the HA Yard was Army Master Sergeant Jimmy W. Dennis, who was charged and convicted in the Western District of Tennessee. Dennis was the Army Paying Agent at the HA yard and worked with Pena to procure supplies for the HA Yard by issuing contracts to local Afghan vendors for supplies.
Between June 5, 2008 and March 21, 2009, Dennis and Pena processed approximately 217 contracts worth approximately $30,760,255 for Afghan vendors to provide supplies to the HA Yard. According to the federal information, Pena and Dennis received money and jewelry from the vendors in return for their official acts on the HA Yard contracts.
Further, it is alleged that Pena received about $100,000 from Dennis in approximately six installments and a Rolex watch which was provided by a vendor seeking to obtain HA Yard contracts.
Pena allegedly sent approximately $22,000 of the bribe money home in greeting cards addressed to his wife who resided at Fort Campbell. He sent three to four bills totaling $300 to $400 in each card at a time so as to not bring attention to the envelope at the post office. It is further alleged that Pena used bribe money to purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle and pay his and his family’s personal expenses in Afghanistan and in the United States.
If convicted at trial, Pena likely faces three years in prison but could receive the maximum punishment of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, no more than three years of supervised release, and forfeiture to the United States of any property traceable to the conspiracy to commit bribery.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Daniel P. Butler of the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section and by Assistant United States Attorney Nute A. Bonner. These matters were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, FBI, Army Criminal Investigative Division, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Air Force Office of Special Investigation.
The filing of a Criminal Information is an accusation only and that person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.