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US Army officer arrested in Iraq contract bribe scheme

[JURIST] A US Army officer has been arrested on bribery, money laundering, theft, and wire fraud charges [DOJ press release] as part of an illegal scheme during his service with the US governing administration in Iraq, according to US Department of Justice [official website] officials Thursday. During his time in Iraq, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler was responsible for developing contract solicitations and ordering contracts in reconstruction efforts for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) [official website]. Wheeler is accused of accepting approximately $100,000 in cash and gifts for granting specific contract bids and allegedly using CPA funds to purchase dozens of firearms, machine guns and grenade launchers for personal use. Wheeler's arrest marks the third made in the fraud scheme after Robert Stein, CPA comptroller and funding officer, and Philip Bloom, a CPA contractor, were charged [JURIST report] last month. Earlier this year, the Justice Department said that CPA contractors could be sued for profiteering [JURIST report] under the Federal False Claims Act [text]. If found guilty, Wheeler could face a 30-year prison sentence. Reuters has more.

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