Associated Press at ABC News November 28, 2012
An Iraq war contractor that lost an $85 million verdict to a group of sickened Oregon soldiers has filed a lawsuit seeking to force the federal government to pay the soldiers’ damages.
In early November, 12 Oregon National Guard soldiers won the verdict against Kellogg Brown and Root, an engineering and construction firm that helped lead the reconstruction work in post-war Iraq. The soldiers were exposed to a toxin while guarding an Iraqi water plant.
In the new lawsuit, KBR also demands that the government pay more than $15 million in its attorneys’ fees.
At the heart of the suit is a so-called indemnification clause that KBR alleges it agreed to with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in March 2003. The clause was designed to protect KBR against “unusually hazardous risks” in its work in Iraq.
In a Nov. 16 filing in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, KBR argues the clause makes the government responsible for the results of its actions in Iraq, including the Oregon verdict.
“Based upon an erroneous legal and factual analysis of the terms of the indemnification agreement, (the Army Corps) has refused to indemnify (KBR) for the costs of defending against the various third-party lawsuits,” KBR attorneys wrote, “and has refused to participate or assume direct responsibility in defending (KBR) in the underlying tort litigations.”
KBR said in the suit that it had no insurance to cover its wartime work, and the government’s refusal to involve itself in lawsuits constitutes a breach of the indemnification agreement.
Oregon Live November 2, 1012
A Portland jury found defense contractor KBR Inc. was negligent, but did not commit fraud against a dozen Oregon Army National Guard soldiers who sued the company for its conduct in Iraq nine years ago. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak announced the decision about 3:35 p.m. the U.S. Courthouse in Portland. Each soldier was awarded $850,000 in non-economic damages and $6.25 million in punitive damages.
“It’s a little bit of justice,” said Guard veteran Jason Arnold, moments after the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Arnold was one of four of the soldier-plaintiffs in the courtroom was the verdict was read.
The verdict should send an important message to those who rely on military troops, he said.
“We’re not disposable,” said another soldier, Aaron St. Clair. “People are not going to make money from our blood.”
KBR’s lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, said the company will appeal.
“We will appeal the jury’s incorrect verdict,” he said. “We believe the trial court should have dismissed the case before the trial.”
Harrison said the soldiers’ lawyers produced a medical expert, Dr. Arch Carson, who offered “unsupported, untested medical opinions” that each soldier had suffered invisible, cellular-level injuries as a result of their exposure to hexavalent chromium.
The verdict means the jury did not hear clear and convincing evidence that KBR intended to deceive the soldiers in the way it operated at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant, near Basra, Iraq. But they did find that the company failed to meet its obligations in managing the work at the plant.
Friday’s verdict closes the first phase of a web of litigation between National Guard and British troops against KBR Inc., the defense contractor they accuse of knowingly exposing them in 2003 to a carcinogen at Qarmat Ali. KBR has denied the accusations.
In Oregon another set of Oregon soldiers are waiting in the wings for their day in court. Magistrate Judge Paul Papak and the attorneys agreed earlier to hold an initial trial with the first 12 soldiers, in order to keep the proceedings from becoming too unwieldy. A second trial, featuring all or some of the remaining 21 plaintiffs, could begin in federal court in Portland this winter.
Another lawsuit brought by Indiana soldiers against KBR is on hold in federal court in Texas, while an appeals court considers a jurisdictional issue.
The cases stem from the chaotic aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. The Army Corps of Engineers hired KBR Inc. to run a massive program called Restore Iraqi Oil. The program involved dozens of sites throughout Iraq — sites that neither the Army nor KBR had visited before the invasion. The project was intended to quickly restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, partly to fund the war. The Pentagon remembered the way Saddam Hussein had lit the fields on fire during the first Gulf War, and feared a repeat in 2003.
Qarmat Ali was a compound where water was pumped underground to drive oil to the surface elsewhere. For decades, Iraqis had treated the water with sodium dichromate, an anticorrosion agent that contains hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen. (Sodium dichromate is banned in the United States.)
Iraq’s Southern Oil Co. took delivery of sodium dichromate, an orange-yellow crystalline powder, in bags that were stored on site. Soldiers and others testified that the material was loose and drifting around the site, and had contaminated areas even outside the chemical injection building where it was added to the water.
How contaminated was it? Accounts differ. Even one of the plaintiffs in this case said he didn’t notice any soil discoloration. One of the British soldiers whose testimony was prerecorded said it was everywhere. Another Oregon soldier said it settled heavily on the clothing of the soldiers, who unwittingly carried it back to their camps over the border in Kuwait.
Much of KBR’s defense in the first Oregon trial focused on just how unlikely it was that any soldier — who visited the plant at durations from one day to 21 days — could have been exposed to dangerously high levels of sodium dichromate. But one of the most gripping portions of the testimony was when Oregon veteran Larry Roberta described eating a chicken patty that had been coated with the orange crystals, which he said immediately burned in his esophagus, causing him to vomit.
Roberta now is confined to a wheelchair and takes oxygen from a tank in his backpack. He had a history of gastrointestinal issues, but attributes much of his poor health to his time at Qarmat Ali.
Harrison, KBR’s lawyer, said the company “believes in the judicial process and respects the efforts and time of the jurors,” but believes the process that brought the case to conclusion Friday shouldn’t have been allowed to come so far.
“KBR did safe and exceptional work in Iraq under difficult circumstances,” he said in a brief, prepared statement. “We believe the facts and law ultimately will provide vindication.”
Soldier-plaintiff Arnold said the message of the verdict is unmistakable. He said service members are being exploited “to this day.”
Now, he said, “the voice will be out. There will be a lot more scrutiny.”
SIGAR Audit 13-1 October 31, 2012
Afghanistan National Security Forces Facilities:
Concerns with Funding, Oversight and Sustainability for Operation and Maintenance
WHAT SIGAR FOUND
The Afghan government will likely be incapable of fully sustaining ANSF facilities after the transition in 2014 and the expected decrease in U.S. and coalition support. The Afghan government’s challenges in assuming O&M responsibilities include a lack of sufficient numbers and quality of personnel, as well as undeveloped budgeting, procurement, and logistics systems.
As of June 1, 2012, the Afghan government had filled less than40 percent of authorized O&M positions. U.S. officials cited salary discrepancies between these ANSF positions and private sector jobs, such as contract positions, as a prime factor in the lagging recruitment efforts.
The ANSF lacks personnel with the technical skills required to operate and maintain critical facilities, such as water supply, waste water treatment, and power generation.
The Ministry of Defense’s procurement process is unable to provide the Afghan army with O&M supplies in a timely manner.
The Ministry of Interior did not make its first budget allocation for O&M at police sites until March 2012.
As of August 1, 2012, 25 sites had started the transition process. However, USACE had not yet developed a plan and procedures
Bloomberg Tony Capaccio July 27,
At least 719 military personnel, civilian contractors, Iraqis and third-country nationals died inIraq over seven years performing U.S. reconstruction and stability operations, according to the first audit of its kind.
The dead include 264 of the 4,409 U.S. troops who died in Iraq from May 1, 2003, through August 30, 2010, according to the audit released today by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
The audit represents the first time a U.S. agency has attempted to tally the deaths associated with spending about $60 billion in congressionally appropriated reconstruction and stabilization funds.
Nothing was safe or “soft” about reconstruction missions, according to the report. “The human losses suffered in Iraq and outlined in this report underscore the point that when such operations are conducted in combat zones, they are dangerous for everyone involved,” the report said.
The deaths occurred during U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, train police and security forces and restructure Iraq’s government institutions.
“The actual number of deaths related to reconstruction or stabilization activities is certainly higher than 719,”according to the report. “For several reasons, an exact calculation is not possible,” the report said, noting that no agency managed a central database for these categories of casualties.
Klein Frank, P.C. Announces $18.78 Million Awarded to Burn Victim of Contractor’s Negligence In Baghdad, Iraq
DENVER, July 11, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ —
Klein Frank, P.C. of Boulder, Colorado and the Law Firm of Ted B. Lyon in Dallas, Texas announce that a jury has rendered a verdict in the amount of $18.78 Million in the case of Dawson v. Fluor Intercontinental, Inc.
Plaintiff David Dawson was a civilian contractor working on the reconstruction of Iraq. Defendant Fluor Intercontinental, Inc. entered into a $59 Million a year costs plus contract with the Army Corps of Engineers to provide O&M and Life Support services in multiple compounds in Iraq. This contract specifically required Fluor to provide safe water to individuals living in these compounds. Fluor Intercontinental, Inc was paid $10 Million per year plus costs to maintain Freedom Compound, a 600 bed facility in Baghdad. Dawson was burned by excessively hot water at Freedom Compound on November 16, 2007.
The jury found that Fluor was negligent and failed to properly maintain the safe temperature of the water heaters. The Defense expert for Fluor testified that the water heaters would reach over 200 Degrees Fahrenheit. All parties agreed that the safe temperature of water was 120 Degrees Fahrenheit.
As a consequence of Fluor’s negligence, David Dawson received third degree burns over 65% of his body and burns to his lungs. He was treated at the Ibn Sina hospital in Baghdad by the 86th CSH and airlifted to Germany where he received extensive treatment to save his life. Dawson credits the skill of his physicians for his survival. The jury awarded him $18.78 million in compensation for his disfigurement and the extreme suffering through which he lived.
Trial attorney Beth Klein “We are grateful that the jury held this highly compensated contractor to the standards to which it agreed. We hope that this verdict will help ensure the safety of our citizens working to support the efforts of the United States and to ensure that contractors provide the value that they promise.”
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.
Prosecutors say their investigation has unmasked one of the largest and most brazen government procurement frauds in history
Associated Press March 13, 2012
WASHINGTON — A former executive on Tuesday admitted his role in a $28 million bribery scheme involving the awarding of government contracts and is cooperating with prosecutors in their continuing investigation.
Harold F. Babb, 60, pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to one charge each of bribery and unlawful kickbacks. Babb was arrested in October along with three other men, including two employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prosecutors say their investigation has unmasked one of the largest and most brazen government procurement frauds in history.
“It took me a while to come to terms (with), but I am guilty,” Babb told a federal judge before entering his plea.
Babb, who has been in custody since his arrest, admitted participating in a complex, far-ranging scheme.
Prosecutors say the fraud involved contracts steered to favored subcontractors for kickbacks, contracts awarded through bribery and the submission of phony and inflated invoices for payment. Authorities say the illicit proceeds of the scheme were split among multiple defendants and used to purchase clothing, real estate, cars, fine jewelry and other luxuries.
A bribery conviction carries a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison and the unlawful kickbacks charge can carry up to 10 years, though Babb is likely to face a much shorter sentence because of his guilty plea and cooperation.
“Mr. Babb decided to accept responsibility and cooperate with the government and move on his with his life,” his lawyer, Jeffrey Jacobovitz, said after the plea hearing.
At the time of his arrest, Babb was director of contracts for Eyak Technology, the subsidiary of an Alaska Native Corporation with operations in Virginia and the prime contractor for a lucrative contract with the Army Corps of Engineers. EyakTek, in turn, had multiple subcontractors, including Nova Datacom and Big Surf Construction Management.
Babb admitted to accepting more than $1 million in kickbacks from Nova Datacom’s chief technology officer, Alex N. Cho, in exchange for giving the subcontractor preferential treatment, and to paying more than $7 million in bribes in return for approval on Army Corps of Engineers contracts and subcontracts, according to authorities.
Babb was arrested along with two Army Corps of Engineers employees, Kerry F. Khan and Michael A. Alexander, and Khan’s son, Lee Khan. Alexander pleaded guilty last month to bribery and conspiracy. Prosecutors initially described the scheme as totaling $20 million, but they say the scope of the fraud has increased to $28 million as new bribes and kickback payments have been discovered.
Since the initial arrests, prosecutors also have revealed charges against a handful of other men associated with subcontractors, including Cho, who pleaded guilty last September to money laundering, conspiracy and other charges.
The Huntsville Times March 13, 2012
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — A series of multi-million contracts for munitions disposal in Iraq were used in a kickback scheme worth more than $1 million, and three men now face criminal charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham.
The scheme involved employees of an unnamed California-based prime contractor, awarding Iraq reconstruction work to subcontractors in exchange for payments, the Justice Department alleges.
The original contracts were issued as part of the Coalition Munitions Clearance Program, which is operated in Iraq by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntsville Engineering and Support Center, according to the Justice Department’s news release.
The Huntsville Engineering and Support’s operated the program to clear out, store and dispose of weapons that were seized or abandoned in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, the Justice Department said.
The HESC awarded a contract to perform this work to an international engineering and construction firm based in Pasadena, Calif.
Two employees of that company, Billy Joe Hunt, 57, of Athens and Gaines Newell, 52, of Richton, Miss., are charged with conspiracy in connection with kickbacks, wire fraud and mail fraud, and with filing false tax returns.
Both men have entered pleas by information and were not indicted.
Those pleas contend both men were involved in soliciting and receiving a total of more than $1 million in kickbacks.
A United Kingdom national, Ahmed Sarchil Kazzaz and his company, Leadstay Co., also face multiple charges. Kazzaz paid more than $947,500 in unlawful kickbacks to win lucrative subcontracts for himself and Leadstay in connection with the Coalition Munitions Clearance Program, the Justice Department said.
Kazzaz and Leadstay face one count of conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States; six counts of unlawful kickbacks; one count of wire fraud; and three counts of mail fraud. Kazzaz was arrested on Feb. 14, 2012, in Los Angeles.
“Government contracts fraud is an insult to all law-abiding taxpayers,” said Northern District of Alabama U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance. “These defendants’ conduct was even worse in that they tried to illegally profit from defense contracts in Iraq, where American men and women were willing to put their lives on the line for freedom.”
Cross Posted from MsSparky’s November 8, 2011
On September 30, 2011 KBR, along with Berger/Cummins JV and IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. were awarded contracts by the The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide electrical services for contingency operations in Afghanistan. This $490 million dollar contract is to perform electrical services for prime power operations in support of any location within the Afghan Theater of Operations. This contract supports any and all U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, as required, up to the maximum capacity of $500 million.
The contract includes generator set Operations and Maintenance (O&M), preparation, transport, installation, preventive maintenance, scheduled maintenance, emergency maintenance, service, fueling, relocating and recovering generator sets, associated fuel systems (if required), and all transmission/distribution system maintenance including the underground or overhead system at the U.S. Facilities from the generators to the transformer and associated switchgear.
USACE, who has had their own employee issues lately, acts as if there are no other contractors out there who can do this work! Not to mention, I suspect these three contractors will load up on cheap third world or Afghan labor to perform this work instead of licensed electricians, further propagating US sponsored human trafficking.
Let’s take a look at these contractors one by one at MsSparky’s
In October 2011, Global Integrated Security (USA), Inc. in Reston, VA won a 4-year, $480 million firm-fixed-price contract from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for Reconstruction Security Support Services throughout Afghanistan. Work will be performed in Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of Oct 19/15. Five bids were solicited, with 5 bids received by the USACE office in Winchester, VA (W912ER-12-D-0001).
Global Integrated Security has performed RSSS work in Afghanistan before. A $34 million task order in December 2009 focused on Kabul and Kandahar, but a March 2010 contract [PDF] from the US Army Corps of Engineers saw them expand those services to encompass a National Operations Center providing intelligence and analysis, reconnaissance teams, interpreters, aviation services throughout Afghanistan; and “mobile security support services” to USACE personnel during travel to, and presence at, construction sites
Execute USACE Army Corp of Engineers projects as part of rebuilding Iraq program. Manage public work, military base and Iraqi infrastructure building construction projects. Mentor and train Iraqi Engineers to step up to the Western techniques in financial and financial project schedule management. ~LinkedIn Profile
(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – September 19, 2011 –
A former employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to receive bribes from Iraqi contractors involved in the U.S.-funded reconstruction efforts, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Thomas Aram Manok, 50, of Chantilly, Va., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 9, 2011. Manok faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
According to court documents, Manok admitted to using his official position to conspire with Iraqi contractors to accept cash bribes in exchange for recommending that the Army Corps of Engineers approve contracts and other requests for payment submitted by the contractors to the U.S. government. According to court documents, in March and April 2010, Manok agreed to receive a $10,000 payment from one such contractor who had been involved in constructing a kindergarten and girls’ school in the Abu Ghraib neighborhood of Baghdad and had sought Manok’s influence in having requests for payment approved by the Corps of Engineers. According to court documents, Manok was to receive an additional bribe payment from the contractor once the contractor’s claim had been approved. Manok also admitted that he intended to conceal the payments from authorities by transferring them, via associates, from Iraq to Armenia.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, the Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, as participants in the International Contract Corruption Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Nathanson of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Mary Ann McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.
Channel 13 WVEC Washington DC September 7, 2011 8:00 pm
A man who worked for the US Army Corps of Engineers in Norfolk was killed in Afghanistan.
James W. Coker, 59, of Mount Pleasant, S.C., was pronounced dead Sept. 5 in Kabul, Afghanistan, while on temporary assignment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Coker worked for Naval Facilities Engineering Command Atlantic in Norfolk.
The circumstances surrounding Coker’s death are under investigation.
According to the Associated Press, Coker was a civilian working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when he was kidnapped from his Afghanistan power plant and strangled to death.
Carrie Hughes, Coker’s daughter, told The Associated Press that military officers came to her house near Charleston, South Carolina on Monday to inform her that her father had been killed.
It was not known who killed the Coker or under what circumstances he was abducted. Also Tuesday, the bodies of two Germans who had apparently been murdered were retrieved from a remote location. Neither area is known to be a hotbed of militant activity.
CBS News September 6, 2007
An Afghan military official tells CBS News that the body of a U.S. national was found beheaded on Monday in eastern Kabul, days after a civilian engineer went missing in the capital city.
Intelligence sources in Afghanistan told the Reuters news agency the body was that of the missing American civilian, and the international military coalition confirmed that a U.S. engineer had been killed.
The slain engineer was identified as James W. “Will” Coker by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, for which he worked in Kabul as a construction contractor.
Kidnappings and targeted killings of foreigners are common in Afghanistan, but less so in the sprawling capital city, which has seen less impact from the Taliban- and al Qaeda-led insurgency plaguing many parts of the nation.
Coker was reported missing on Monday, but sources tell CBS News he actually disappeared on Sept. 2
An alarming story of greed, negligence, and a lack of government oversight
Starring the DBA Insurance company that most ruthlessly denies the medical care and benefits to Injured Contractors and the Widows and families of those who are killed.
July 28, 2011
So this $58.5 million was overcharged in a very small portion of the DBA business that CNA carries.
Basically CNA overcharged, didn’t reimburse USACE and contractors for labor charges that turned out not to be justified, did not have proper paperwork in place and accounting procedures to allow DCAA to be able to look at their books and determine who was owed what.
CNA also commingled funds meant to be segregated for different contracts, lumping them all into one account.
The workers’ compensation program is so riddled with problems as a result of using a third-party insurer that the inspector general’s office suggests it may be worthwhile to dump the insurer altogether, the audit reads.
More to come
WASHINGTON, July 14 (UPI) — The Justice Department Thursday announced the indictment of three former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme.
The former employees, along with two foreign contractors, were charged in a 54-count indictment with bribery and fraud in connection with the award of more than $50 million in construction and infrastructure contracts in Iraq, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey said in a statement.
The five defendants named in the indictment are Egyptian-born U.S. citizen John Alfy Salama Markus, 39, of Nazareth, Pa.; Onisem Gomez, 32, a U.S. citizen residing in Chiriqui, Panama; Ammar Al-Jobory, aka “Ammar Hussein Muhammed Al-Jobory,” 33, an Iraqi citizen; Ahmed Nouri, aka “Ahmed Bahjat,” 41, a citizen of Great Britain residing in Greece and Iraq; and Mithaq Al-Fahal, aka “Mithaq Mahmood Al-Fahal,” 36, an Iraqi citizen.
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Jan. 5 (UPI) — The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency is procuring building materials for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Carl Knotts, chief of plans, exercise and readiness branch in DLA’s Joint Logistics Operations Center, said the agency began the effort in October because of concerns about the quality of locally procured construction materials.
“What they’ve asked us to do is the procurement and the strategic distribution to the geographic region,” he said.
“From an agency perspective, it’s an expansion into a business line that we generally didn’t have a business presence of this magnitude,” he said. “This is a chance for us to demonstrate that we can do this and do it well.” Please read the entire article here