Horn Lake Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Launder Bribes Received in Afghanistan
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 16, 2014|
MEMPHIS, TN—Jerry Dennis, 68, of Horn Lake, MS, pled guilty today to a one-count information charging conspiracy to launder approximately $250,000 in bribe payments received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee Edward L. Stanton III.
According to facts revealed in the criminal information and during the hearing, Jimmy Dennis, a former First Sergeant with the United States Army, was assigned to the Humanitarian Aid Yard at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. He served as a paying agent from March 2008 until his return to his home base at Fort Campbell, KY.
Together with a Project Purchasing Officer (PPO), Jimmy Dennis worked as a team to procure supplies from local Afghan contractors. These supplies were used as part of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program for urgent humanitarian relief requirements in Afghanistan.
Soon after Jimmy Dennis began working as a paying agent, an Afghan interpreter offered him a $10,000 bribe/kickback to accept certain Afghan contractors onto the list of eligible contractors. Jimmy Dennis accepted the money and later accepted bribe payments from a second interpreter to allow additional vendors onto the list of eligible contractors. Jimmy Dennis estimated that he personally received about $250,000 in bribes.
Jimmy Dennis smuggled the money home through the U.S. Mail through a variety of means including sending home a “jingle truck” (colorfully decorated trucks or buses in Afghanistan and Pakistan) to his father, Jerry Dennis. Jimmy Dennis hid the money in the rear compartment of the toy truck. Jimmy Dennis also shipped a hope chest containing approximately $100,000 in cash in a concealed compartment to Jerry Dennis. Jerry Dennis would then deposit the funds received from Jimmy Dennis into his personal bank account. Jerry Dennis stopped depositing the money into his bank account after being questioned by bank authorities regarding his cash deposits.
Jimmy Dennis then met with James Pittman while on leave and asked if he could send the money to Pittman to launder through his landscaping company. Pittman agreed and began sending “salary” checks to Jimmy Dennis after Jimmy Dennis provided Pittman with jingle trucks containing hidden cash and Jerry Dennis provided $20,000 remaining from the money he had received. Jerry and Jimmy Dennis used the money for a number of personal expenses including paying vehicle loans and buying motorcycles.
James Pittman and Jimmy Dennis pled guilty to the same charge, Pittman on May 15, 2014 before U.S. Magistrate Judge William B. Carter of the Eastern District of Tennessee and Jimmy Dennis on May 28, 2014 before U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays, Jr.
Jerry Dennis faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $500,000 fine, restitution, forfeiture, and five years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for November 20, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays, Jr.
This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the FBI, the Army Criminal Investigative Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frederick Godwin of the Western District of Tennessee and James Brooks of the Eastern District of Tennessee.