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Army Lieutenant Colonel Pleads Guilty to Participating in Wire Fraud Scheme Arising out of Al-Hillah, Iraq


WASHINGTON – Debra Harrison, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, pleaded guilty today to honest services wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud the Coalition Provisional Authority - South Central Region (CPA-SC) in Al-Hillah, Iraq, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division.

Harrison, 50, of Trenton, N.J., entered her guilty plea today before the Honorable Mary L. Cooper at the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Trenton Division. At the plea hearing, Harrison admitted that in August 2004 she received a Cadillac Escalade from Philip Bloom, a contractor at the CPA-SC. The Escalade was financed through a series of wire transfer payments, which form the basis of the wire fraud charge. Harrison also admitted that she took more than $300,000 from the CPA-SC while deployed there and that she used some of the stolen money to make improvements at her home. Harrison also admitted that in July 2004 she helped to move unregistered firearms from a hotel in North Carolina to the home of Robert Stein, a co-conspirator who worked with Harrison at the CPA-SC.

Harrison’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 19, 2008. Harrison faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a three year term of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

On Jan. 29, 2007, co-conspirator Robert Stein was sentenced to nine years in prison for related charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering, as well as weapons possession charges, for his role in the same scheme. Stein was also ordered to forfeit $3.6 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme.

On Feb.16, 2007, co-conspirator Philip Bloom was sentenced to 46 months in prison for related charges of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering for his role in the scheme. Bloom was also ordered to forfeit $3.6 million for his role in the bribery and money laundering scheme.

On June 25, 2007, Lt. Col. Bruce Hopfengardner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for conspiracy and money laundering related to this scheme. Hopfengardner was also ordered to forfeit $144,500.

On Feb. 1, 2007, Col. Curtis Whiteford, Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler, and civilians Seymour Morris Jr. and William Driver were charged in a 25-count indictment for related charges including conspiracy, bribery and money laundering in connection with this scheme. Trial in this case is scheduled to begin Sept. 9, 2008, in Trenton.

These cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Ann C. Brickley and John P. Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, headed by Section Chief William M. Welch II. The cases are being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI-Washington Field Office.


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