Courthouse News Service April 10, 2012
An Army major pleaded guilty to taking $20,000 in “gratuities” from an Iraqi contractor he helped circumvent security near a military base, federal prosecutors said.
Christopher Grant Bradley, 42, of El Paso, pleaded guilty Monday in El Paso Federal Court to two counts of illegally accepting gratuities. He faces up to 1 year in prison and agreed to pay $20,000 in restitution.
Bradley admitted that on two occasions he accepted $10,000 in cash from the unnamed contractor. He admitted he was paid after escorting the contractor around the Forward Operating Base Diamondback in Mosul, Iraq, after the contractor was unable to hire a properly credentialed employee.
He also helped the contractor get around security that required offloading and reloading of trucks before entering the base.
Bradley was stationed at the base from January to November 2008.
His sentencing date is pending
A judge has dismissed rape and indecent liberties charges against a former Iraq contractor.
The Pilot Online July 27, 2011
Police brought Daniel P. Phillips, 46, back from Iraq in January to face felony charges of rape, indecent liberties and aggravated sexual battery, according to a police report.
In court papers, Phillips denied the allegations and stated that he was in Kuwait and Iraq between December 2004 and January 2005, when the alleged attacks occurred.
Earlier this month, a prosecutor asked the judge to dismiss the charges and release Phillips from the Norfolk jail. Circuit Court Judge Charles E. Poston on Monday signed an order dismissing the charges
Bill Sizemore The Virginian Pilot June 14, 2011
NORFOLK A former Blackwater contractor from Virginia Beach was sentenced to 37 months in prison today for involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting death of a civilian in Afghanistan.
Christopher Drotleff is the first contractor for the Moyock, N.C.-based security company now known as Xe Services to get prison time for killing a civilian in a war zone. A second man, Justin Cannon of Corpus Christi, Texas, has been convicted in the same case and faces sentencing later this month.
The two were charged with murder and tried twice. Their first trial, in September, ended in a hung jury. The manslaughter convictions in their March retrial appeared to be a compromise verdict.
Drotleff and Cannon were working for Paravant, a Blackwater subsidiary, providing weapons training for the Afghan army under a Defense Department subcontract when their two-vehicle convoy became involved in a traffic accident in Kabul, the Afghan capital, in May 2009.
They were off duty at the time and had been drinking, according to testimony.
Fareed Haji Ahmad, driving home from dinner with a co-worker, approached the scene in his Toyota Corolla and offered to help, he testified. He became confused, he said, when three men waved him on but a fourth told him to stop.
When he drove off, Drotleff and Cannon opened fire on the retreating vehicle, according to testimony. Ahmad’s passenger, Romal Mohammad Naiem, was killed.
A pedestrian, Rahib Mirza Mohammad, out walking with a friend and a dog, was also shot in the back of the head and died a month later. The contractors were acquitted of charges in his death.
Friday, June 10, 2011 | 2:45 p.m.
A former defense contractor employee has been indicted on charges that he conspired with others to steal U.S. military ammunition in Iraq and then sold it back to Iraqis and U.S. forces.
Chad Eric O’Kelley was released on his own recognizance after being arrested at his Carson City home and making an initial appearance Thursday. He faces federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and money laundering.
The indictment alleges O’Kelley was a manager in Baghdad with Minden-based defense contractor Security Operations Consulting in 2007 when he conspired with others to sell the ammo and send cash to the U.S. via Federal Express or couriers.
The 40-year-old man was ordered to appear in federal court in Texas, where he used to live in El Paso.
UPDATE: March 27, 2010
BAGHDAD — A Shiite militant group in Iraq has posted an Internet video showing an American it says it abducted and who appears to be a contractor reported missing by the U.S. military.
The U.S. Department of Defense said Friday that American contractor Issa T. Salomi, 60, went missing Jan. 23 in Baghdad and that search and recovery efforts were under way, but it released no other details. The U.S. military in Baghdad on Saturday confirmed Salomi is missing but would not provide additional information.
In the video, the man – who did not identify himself – says his abductors from the League of the Righteous are demanding the release of militants and the prosecution of Blackwater security contractors accused of killing 17 Iraqis in 2007 in Baghdad.
“The second demand is to bring the proper justice and the proper punishment to those members of Blackwater company that have committed unjustifiable crimes against innocent Iraqi civilians,” the man said. “And to bring justice by proper compensation to the families that have been involved in great suffering because of this incident.”
Blackwater security contractors were protecting U.S. diplomats when the guards opened fire in Nisoor Square, a crowded Baghdad intersection, on Sept. 16, 2007. Seventeen people were killed, including women and children, in a shooting that inflamed anti-American sentiment in Iraq.
There was no way to verify the authenticity of the video, but a high-ranking Iraqi defense official told The Associated Press that Salomi was abducted by the militant group in the central Baghdad district of Karradah. The official said Salomi is of Iraqi origin and that his abductors lured him to Karradah under the pretense of visiting distant relatives.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
“We obviously hope for his safe return,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. “We aren’t certain of the circumstances under which he disappeared.”
The Department of Defense said the missing contractor is from El Cajon, California.
Salomi’s family issued a statement, released through the FBI in San Diego, saying they were hoping for his safe return. The statement did not say whether Salomi was believed abducted.
“We are confident that everything is being done by the most capable people here and abroad to bring Issa home safely, and we all are anxiously awaiting his safe return,” the statement said.
The man in the video is seated in a chair and wearing what looks like a U.S. military uniform. Behind him is the black banner of the militant group, also known by its Arabic name, Asaib Ahl al-Haq.
He says his captors were also demanding the immediate withdrawal of the U.S. military from Iraq.
The militant group’s Web site claimed the man in the video is an American officer.
The same group was believed to be behind the kidnapping of British computer consultant Peter Moore in May 2007 along with his four British bodyguards. Moore was handed over to Iraqi authorities in late December. Three of the bodyguards were killed and the fourth is believed dead.
The British government has said no deals were struck for Moore’s release, though it coincided with the transfer of the head of the militant group from U.S. to Iraqi custody.
Qais al-Khazali, along with his brother, were accused of organizing an attack on a local government headquarters in the city of Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers on Jan. 20, 2007.
Eight U.S. Civilians Killed in Afghanistan Blast (Update1)
December 30, 2009, 03:30 PM EST
By Tony Capaccio
Dec. 30 (Bloomberg) — Eight U.S. civilians were killed today in a blast at an American military base in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
Lieutenant Colonel Almarah Belk said the explosion took place at Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost province. Belk said she didn’t know what installations or agencies are located at the base.
The U.S. has been expanding the ranks of civilian aid experts in Afghanistan in parallel with the surge of military reinforcements aimed at the Taliban insurgency.
NATO forces spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Vician said the nature of the explosion is being investigated. The Associated Press cited a U.S. official in Washington as saying the Americans were killed by an attacker wearing a suicide-bomb vest.
Khost is located in eastern Afghanistan, along the border with Pakistan.
–With assistance from Viola Gienger in Washington. Editors: Edward DeMarco, Robin Meszoly
To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Capaccio in Washington at +1-202-624-1911 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robin Meszoly at +1-202-624-1824 or email@example.com
The military said the name of the contractor is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The incident is under investigation, and the military did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for more details.
By KIMBERLY HEFLING (AP) – 34 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — A State Department contractor apparently has been electrocuted while showering in Baghdad even as U.S. authorities in Iraq try to remedy bathhouse wiring problems that have led to the deaths of American troops there.
The contractor, Adam Hermanson, 25, died Sept. 1, his wife, Janine, said Tuesday. She added that a military medical examiner told her that preliminary findings indicate her husband died from low voltage electrocution.
Electrical wiring has been an ongoing problem in Iraq. At least three troops have been electrocuted in the shower since the start of the Iraq War. Inspections and repairs are under way at 90,000 U.S.-maintained facilities there.
Hermanson grew up in San Diego and Las Vegas. He joined the military at age 17, and did three tours in Iraq with the Air Force before leaving at the rank of staff sergeant. He returned to Iraq as an employee of the Herndon, Va.-based private contractor Triple Canopy.
Jayanti Menches, a spokeswoman for Triple Canopy, said in an e-mail that the company was saddened by his death but would not be commenting further until an investigation was complete.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood also offered condolences to the family, but would not elaborate further on the cause of death, pending an investigation.
Janine Hermanson said her husband took the contracting job so they would have money to buy a house in Muncy, Pa., where they were planning to live. She said she’d already moved there and was living with her parents.
The two would have celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary on Sunday.
“He was supposed to come back and we had a lot of plans,” said his wife, who also served in Iraq with the Air Force.
Besides three Iraq tours, Adam Hermanson served in Uzbekistan with the Air Force. His mother, Patricia Hermanson, 53, of Las Vegas, said everyone in her family was struggling to understand how he could survive four war tours, then die suddenly in a seemingly safe place.
“We all know that Adam was as strong as a tank,” his mother said. “He was in good health.”
WASHINGTON — The government has kept a closer eye on U.S. contractors in Iraq since a deadly 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards, but it still needs to do a better job tracking and investigating when private security guards fire their guns, two new Pentagon audits have found.
The reports were released Tuesday by the Pentagon’s special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. They looked at the oversight of at least 13 U.S. firms working for the Defense and State departments between May 2008 and February 2009.
In perhaps the most serious lapse of oversight, one of the audits concluded, contractor watchdogs did not properly report and track the May 2008 death of an Army Corps of Engineers employee who was caught in a gunfight between security guards and al-Qaida suspects near Bayji, in central Iraq.
Pentagon auditors said the employee’s death should have been recorded in a database and triggered an Army investigation. U.S. officials in Iraq, however, said that was unnecessary if “the incident is caused by the enemy and does not involve a local national,” the audit found.
“Because of the lack of documentation, we could not determine if the incident was not investigated for the reasons cited by … officials or there simply is no record of an investigation,” the audit noted.
In all, contractor watchdogs did not record five out of 109 incidents where private guards fired their weapons during the 10-month period, the audit found. Moreover, the watchdogs’ database did not have evidence supporting 51 percent of the incidents reported.
Responding, the military’s Armed Contractor Oversight Branch in Iraq reported that it now tracks all serious incident reports of contractor shootings in its database, including 44 between February and June.
The reports ranged from 25 accidental shootings and the killing of a poisonous snake to 17 so-called “graduated force response” incidents that escalated into shootings. Of those 17, three have been referred for investigation, auditors found.
The second audit found that new rules for contractors that were put in place after the 2007 Blackwater shootings generally have helped oversight and coordination between private guards and the military.
Seventeen Iraqi civilians died in the notorious Blackwater shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, an incident that strained U.S.-Iraqi relations. Blackwater is no longer operating in Baghdad, although it still has guards in some southern areas who are working under the company’s new name, Xe.
Five Blackwater guards have pleaded not guilty in the shootings, which Justice Department prosecutors say was an unprovoked attack on civilians. The guards’ lawyers, however, say the five men believed they were under attack and acting in self-defense.
A sixth Blackwater guard struck a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to killing one Iraqi and wounding another.