The government security contractor formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide has admitted to the key facts behind 17 federal criminal charges, including illegal exports and unauthorized possession of automatic weapons, as part of an effort to end a long-running investigation into the firm’s conduct.
Blackwater, now known as Academi LLC, agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine on top of a $42 million settlement it reached earlier regarding civil arms export violations.
“Today’s proceedings conclude a lengthy and complex investigation into a company which has provided valuable services to the United States Government, but which, at times, and in many ways, failed to comply with important laws and regulations concerning how we as a country interact with our international allies and adversaries,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker said in a statement. “Compliance with these laws is critical to the proper conduct of our defense efforts and to international diplomatic relations. This prosecution is an important step to ensuring that our corporate citizens comply with these rules in every circumstance.”
Some of the charges relate to Blackwater’s possession of machine guns at a training compound in North Carolina.
“ACADEMI is pleased to reach this important agreement on this legacy matter. It is yet another step in our commitment to fairly resolve past issues and become the industry leader in governance, compliance, and regulatory matters,” Academi spokesman John Procter said in a statement. “The agreement, which does not involve any guilty plea or admit to any violations, reflects the significant and tangible efforts that ACADEMI’s new ownership and leadership team have made in achieving that goal. The company is fully committed to this agreement and looks forward to successfully fulfilling its obligations on this legacy matter.”
More on the company’s deferred prosecution agreement here from the Associated Press.
RALEIGH, N.C. — The international security contractor formerly known as Blackwater has agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling and other crimes.
Documents unsealed Tuesday in a U.S. District Court in North Carolina said the company, now called Academi LLC, agreed to pay the fine as part of a deferred prosecution agreement to settle 17 violations.
The list includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
Federal prosecutors said it settles a long and complex case against the company, which has held billions in U.S. security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Justice Department plans to bring a new indictment against four Blackwater Worldwide guards involved in a 2007 shooting that killed 17 Iraqis.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina had thrown out the case in 2009, but an appeals court reinstated the charges last year.
Urbina, who has since retired, said prosecutors built their case on sworn statements the guards had given under a promise of immunity.
A Justice Department attorney told Judge Royce Lamberth on Wednesday that a special team will ensure that prosecutors working on the new indictment don’t have access to “privileged statements.” Prosecutors say they will seek a superseding indictment after gathering additional evidence.
The guards are accused of opening fire in a crowded Baghdad intersection in 2007.
The EEOC granted a former Ronco Consulting Employee and American Injured War Zone Contractor the Right to Sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act after investigating the complaint.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Even those who were disabled due to the negligence of the company in question.
Oregon Live June 26, 2012
It’s not clear who’s going to pay legal costs for defense contractor KBR Inc., which is being sued by National Guard soldiers who accuse the company of knowingly exposing them to a carcinogen.
While the company persuaded the Army Corps of Engineers to write an indemnification clause into its 2003 contract to restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, the Corps has twice refused KBR’s request to cover its costs in the two lawsuits proceeding against it in Oregon and Texas.
Lawyers for KBR say they believe the company is entitled to have its expenses covered by taxpayers but is proceeding through the litigation in the meantime at its own risk and expense, said Geoffrey Harrison of the Houston firm of Susman, Godfrey. The company expects to challenge the Corps’ denial “maybe at the end of the case,” he said.
James Vicini Rueters June 4, 2012
Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by four Blackwater Worldwide security guards who argued prosecutors made improper use of their statements to investigators in charging them with killing 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007.
The justices refused to review a ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., that reinstated the criminal charges against the guards for their roles in the Baghdad shooting that outraged Iraqis and strained ties between the two nations.
The shooting occurred as the guards, U.S. State Department security contractors, escorted a heavily armed four-truck convoy of U.S. diplomats through the Iraqi capital on September 16, 2007.
The guards, U.S. military veterans, responded to a car bombing when gunfire erupted at a busy intersection. The guards told State Department investigators they opened fire in self-defense, but prosecutors said the shooting was an unprovoked attack on civilians.
WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?
The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones.
One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal? The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.
WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?
The company you work for is responsible for requesting that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.
As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer. Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.
Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim. Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.
It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.
When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.
Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.
These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged. ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.
KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.
Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.
For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-
The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.
We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.
If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.
Law Offices of Scott J Bloch May 23, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC (May 23, 2012) – Blackwater Industries, which changed its name to Xe Services, and now has changed it yet again to Academi LLC, lost its initial bid to have the $240 million suit for employee misclassification sent to arbitration and dismissed from federal court in Washington, D.C.
Scott Bloch filed an amended complaint (see link above) in the class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages. The action seeks $240,000,000 in damages for lost benefits, overtime, treble damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.
The court has rejected that motion filed by Blackwater and required it to file another motion to determine if the same Plaintiffs agreed to have an arbitrator determine if the agreements were unconscionable, procured by duress, fraud and undue influence.
“Blackwater acted illegally and unconscionably toward these brave individuals,” said Bloch. ”Through their fraud as pointed out in the Amended Complaint, they avoided overtime for security workers who worked sometimes 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week. They were forced to sign agreements they never read and were not given time to read and not given copies, which took away valuable rights and were unlawful in their terms. Now the court has rejected their initial motion and required Blackwater to seek the same relief if they can prove that the Plaintiffs who never were allowed to read the original agreements agreed to have an arbitrator determine whether they properly agreed to anything. We continue to assert the illegality of the agreements and the actions of Blackwater.”
Careful who you follow….
A United Nations Mine Action Employee has filed a lawsuit against Ronco Consulting Corporation for negligence after stepping on a landmine resulting in an immediate below the knee amputation in an area previously cleared by and certified clear of landmines by Ronco Consulting.
The United Nations board of inquiry found that Ronco failed to find the mine that injured Mr Fartham as well as three other mines.
The complaint states that Ronco Consulting, acting through it’s agents and/or employee’s, breached it’s professional duty of care to Fantham and did not exercise the reasonable care and skill expected of professional mine clearance companies.
Courthouse News March 7, 2012
HOUSTON (CN) – A contractor accused of trafficking Nepali laborers into Iraq to staff Al Asad Air Base cannot seek an interim appeal, a federal judge ruled.
In a 2008 federal RICO complaint, Nepali families claimed that U.S. military contractors duped 13 men into indentured servitude in Iraq.
With promises of a $500 monthly salary, many of the men believed they would be working at a luxury hotel in Jordan. But they later learned that they were actually on their way to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, according to the complaint. At that point, the large brokerage fees they owed allegedly kept the men from turning back for home.
Insurgents from the Ansar al-Sunna Army captured 12 of the men in August 2004 as they traveled in the front of an unsecured 17-car caravan along the Amman-to-Baghdad highway in Iraq’s Anbar province, the families say. The 13th man, Buddi Prasad Gurung, was in a separate car and evaded capture, according to the complaint.
When the insurgents executed the captives, international news stations aired the footage of their deaths, reaching the men’s families in Nepal, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit against the military contractors, Daoud & Partners and Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), was removed from the Central District of California to the Southern District of Texas.
On Dec. 12, 2011, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison dismissed some of the claims against Daoud from the families, as well as some of the cross-claims that the company faced from KBR.
The 48-page order upheld personal jurisdiction over Daoud, but dismissed negligence and false-imprisonment claims by Gurung, the lone survivor
Courthouse News March 6, 2012
DETROIT (CN) – A family claims in Federal Court that DynCorp International covered up the shooting of their son, who allegedly was shot to death by a drunken co-worker in Iraq.
The family of the late Justin Pope sued DynCorp and 12 of its employees, including the alleged shooter, Kyle Palmer.
The family claims Palmer was drunk when he shot and killed Justin Pope in front of at least 11 other DynCorp employees on March 4, 2009. They say in the complaint that “Defendant Palmer pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the case of United States v. Kyle Palmer ... and on March 29, 2010, was sentenced to, among other things, three (3) years in prison for the crime.”
The men worked as security specialists for DynCorp in Kirkuk, Iraq, assigned to protect American diplomats and dignitaries. DynCorp is a private military contractor based in Falls Church, Va.
Pope, a Detroit native who served two tours of duty in Iraq, was 25 at the time of his death.
Pope’s family claims DynCorp and the alleged witnesses conjured up a story to cover up the facts of his death.
The complaint states: “Defendant Palmer in his drunkenness, pulled out a gun, pointed it at Justin’s mouth, pulled the trigger, and shot Justin to death.
“Within 24 hours, defendants commenced a series of events as part of a conspiracy amongst and between themselves as well as, at some point, agents of the United States government, to deceive and mislead the public – and Justin’s family, plaintiffs herein, in particular – with regard to the facts and circumstances of Justin’s death, withholding the truth from them.
“Among the falsehoods that Defendants affirmatively told plaintiffs and/or communicated to the public, at various times from March 4, 2009 to the present and continuing, were the following:
“a. That Justin was alone when he was killed;
“b. That Justin shot himself;
“c. That Justin was intoxicated, in violation of DynCorp policy;
“d. That Justin was shot by his own firearm;
“e. That Justin was shot because he and Palmer were pointing their guns at one another;
“f. That Justin, while intoxicated, pointed his gun at Palmer’s head;
“g. That Justin’s death was exclusively his fault; and
“h. Other falsehoods.
“Among the facts that defendants deliberately concealed from plaintiffs were the following:
“a. That defendant Palmer shot and killed Justin;
“b. That Justin was shot from a distance of at least several feet;
“c. That there was no evidence that Justin had ingested alcohol or any other intoxicants;
“d. That there were at least eleven (11) people in the room at the time that Justin was shot;
“e. That there was widespread ingestion of alcohol and intoxication amongst DynCorp employees, including but not limited to individual Defendants
Palmer, Fleming, Hillestad, Augustine, Igo, Tanner, Isaac [Doe 1] and Doe #’s 2-7, the night of Justin’s shooting death;
“That while DynCorp claimed to have a policy of zero tolerance for alcohol ingestion by DynCorp employees on its premises in Iraq, in fact, alcohol abuse was permitted, tolerated, authorized, condoned, approved, known, and promoted by Defendant DynCorp;
“That defendant DynCorp had ordered all its employees who were present in Justin’s room when he was shot and killed to go into a room and not come out until they had agreed upon a story as to how it had happened so they could conceal the truth; and
“Other pertinent information.
“Plaintiffs to this date have never been provided any information regarding the medical treatment that was provided to Justin after he was shot and before he died.
“Plaintiffs to this date have never been provided any of defendant DynCorp’s investigation reports or information about the internal investigation that supposedly occurred after the shooting.”
Even after Palmer’s conviction and sentencing, DynCorp continues to stick to its fabricated story, Pope’s family says.
They add: “The acts, false statements and omissions of defendants, described above, were intentional, willful, wanton, and designed to cause pain and injury. They were malicious, and were performed in violation of and with deliberate indifference and/or in reckless disregard of plaintiffs’ respective emotional well-being. …
These craven acts of dishonesty, some of which occurred immediately after Justin’s death and in the wake of his family’s shock and grief, and continue to this day, consisted both of fabricating events that did not happen (e.g. telling Justin’s family that ‘he shot himself’) and of intentionally withholding information regarding the circumstances of his death from the family. These acts of dishonesty were committed directly by defendants, and as part of the conspiracy, alleged herein, amongst defendants and with agents and officials of the United States government.”
Pope’s family seeks exemplary damages for conspiracy to intentionally inflict emotional injury, and intentional infliction of emotional injury.
They are represented by William Goodman, with Goodman Hurwitz
War profiteering has never been so profitable for the wrongdoer and so dangerous for our troops and the taxpayer. Please sign my petition (SIGN HERE)
More than 200 soldiers are suing KBR for knowingly exposing them to toxic chemicals in Iraq, whose effects started with nose bleeds and could end with cancer. KBR says that didn’t happen. But even if it did, the company isn’t responsible. Taxpayers are.
even if KBR is found liable, an indemnity clause in the company’s contract means that it won’t have to cover legal costs. There’s a reason both KBR and the Army wanted a last-minute addition to the contract to remain classified for as long as possible: It indemnifies KBR for any soldier’s on-site injury or death — even if due to the company’s willful misconduct.
The Houston Press February 15, 2012
Larry Roberta, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard, sat on a stack of sacks brimming with one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man and chomped on his chicken patty.
Unsuccessful in his mission to swap his rations with any of the British soldiers, who were stocked with heavenly corned beef hash and chocolate pudding, he braved the mystery meat’s gooey coating while keeping an eye on the contractors’ trailer a few yards away. While the Kellogg Brown & Root guys ate inside the trailer, Roberta could’ve taken lunch in one of the vehicles, but he figured vehicles were prime targets for any insurgents or Saddam loyalists who might be scouring the area. Better to suffer the hundred-plus-degree heat.
To Roberta’s knowledge, the chicken patty, with its gooey coating, was the only toxic substance he was currently in contact with. The sand around the sacks was mixed with a dark-orange, crystalline powder, but it didn’t faze him — the entire water-injection facility he was guarding was filthy with chemical residue.
The facility, Qarmat Ali, was a sprawling, approximately 50-acre plant where chemically treated water was pumped deep underground to maintain balance in the reservoirs while the oil was extracted. The plant had already felt the pains from years of U.N. sanctions before looters descended like human twisters in early spring and ran away with whatever wasn’t bolted down, and much of what was, knocking out electricity and leaving some buildings as mere husks. One building was littered with human feces; exposed machinery was coated with sludge and sand and colored powders.
What a disappointment that this lawsuit never made it to discovery.
The history of how this contract was managed deserved to be exposed.
Ronco made this lawsuit go away, but this United Nations Board of Inquiries Report and others stand.
And no matter how big a settlement, Stephan will not be growing any body parts back
Careful who you follow
In August 2011, Blake Hannafan and Jim McGuinness settled a Personal Injury lawsuit on behalf of Stephen Fantham, arising from a traumatic leg amputation as a result of a land mine explosion in Sudan, Africa, against Ronco Consulting Corporation pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In addition, the settlement also included claims for loss of consortium to Mr. Fantham’s wife. The settlement was reached before Ronco even responded to the complaint.
The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.
Note from OCC: The EEOC does not bring a claim on behalf of an employee, or issue a Right to Sue, unless they determine beforehand that the charges are valid and should be investigated further. DynCorp likely saved themselves having to admit on every proposal they submitted that they had this EEOC charge against them.
AP at The Republic January 9, 2012
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Military contractor DynCorp International Inc. has agreed to pay $155,000 to settle a civil lawsuit alleging that a mechanic in Iraq was subjected to homophobic slurs and a hostile working environment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit last year in federal court in Alexandria on behalf of DynCorp employee James Friso.
The suit alleged Friso endured frequent taunts from a co-worker during a four-month stint in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. Friso, who is married and heterosexual, complained to managers but was either ignored or threatened with transfer, according to the suit.
As part of a written settlement, Falls Church-based DynCorp makes no admission of guilt and agreed to provide training to its managers on sexual harassment policies in the workplace
Charlotte lawyers sought damages in six deaths and injuries in 2007 incident that sparked debate over use of private security contractors.
The Charlotte Observer January 6, 2012
“With respect to the Iraqi families and individuals who were plaintiffs in this lawsuit (it) provides them with compensation so they can now bring some closure to the losses they suffered,” the statement reads.
The lawsuit was the last active civil suit stemming from the incident, in which five Blackwater guards were accused in 14 deaths.
It was the second confidential settlement with the company’s corporate successor, Arlington-Va.-based Academi announced Friday, days after the final U.S. troops left Iraq.
A federal appeals court ended a lawsuit over an episode that produced one of the more disturbing images of the war: the grisly killings of four Blackwater security contractors and the hanging of a pair of their bodies from a bridge in Fallujah.
Families of those victims reached a confidential settlement with the company’s corporate successor, Arlington, Va.-based Academi, and the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the suit last week. The settlement was first reported Friday by The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.