A former employee of KBR pleaded guilty Friday to accepting more than $110,000 in kickbacks from an Iraqi subcontractor he chose to renovate buildings in Iraq for the U.S. Army.
Glenn Allen Powell, 40, of Cedar Park, near Austin, pleaded guilty to one count of fraud against the United States and one count of violating the Anti-Kickback Act. Powell faces up to 20 years in prison and as much as $1.2 million in fines, according to a copy of the plea agreement.
Powell is free on $500,000 bond as he awaits sentencing, scheduled for Nov. 18 in a Rock Island, Ill., federal court.
"He made a mistake, he entered a plea of guilty, and he's sorry for what happened. He's going to try to make it right," said Powell's attorney, Samuel Bassett of Austin.
The Justice Department would not say whether the Iraqi contractor, which it did not name, would be pursued by U.S. or Iraqi authorities.
Neither Houston-based Halliburton nor its KBR subsidiary was named in the indictment.
Powell appeared in court Friday in Rock Island, where he admitted to accepting $110,300 in kickbacks from the subcontractor he selected to renovate four buildings in Iraq to be used for office and warehouse space.
KBR submitted an invoice to the U.S. government for the work on Oct. 15, 2004.
The job was valued at $609,000 and was awarded to the Iraqi company during the bidding process, according to the plea agreement. Powell admitted during Friday's hearing that he and the Iraqi company's managing partner had agreed that Powell would receive 20 percent of the contract price as a kickback.
Powell told FBI agents during their investigation in March that the Iraqi company still owed him about $11,500 in kickbacks, the plea agreement said.
Powell, a U.S. citizen, worked for KBR from October 2003 to Jan. 6 as a subcontracts administrator in Iraq. His job included negotiating, executing and administrating subcontracts for KBR under its work with the U.S. Army Operations Support command based at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois.
An internal investigation conducted by KBR discovered Powell's activities.
"When KBR learned that one of its employees was allegedly receiving improper payments from a subcontractor, the company initiated an investigation, the employee was questioned and admitted wrongdoing," the company said in a statement. "KBR immediately terminated the individual's employment and reported the issue to government investigators."
KBR said it also has reimbursed the government and banned the Iraqi company from participating in any more bids.
"A government contract is not a license to steal," U.S. Attorney Jan Paul Miller said in a prepared statement. "The public should be able to trust that the individuals who implement government contracts do so honestly. Those who breach that trust, exploiting government contracts for personal gain, will be aggressively prosecuted."
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