A former U.S. civilian contractor pleaded guilty on Monday in the Eastern District of North Carolina to conspiring to steal military generators in Iraq in 2011 and selling them on the black market. David John Welch, 36, of Hope Mills, N.C., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge W. Earl Britt to a criminal information charging him with one count of conspiracy to steal property under the control of a government contractor.

According to court documents, in 2011, Welch was the operations and maintenance manager of Fluor Corporation, a U.S. government contractor, on Victory Base Complex in Baghdad. In this capacity, Welch had access to the distribution and movement of military equipment as well as U.S. government equipment. In addition, Welch was in charge of overseeing the movement of generators from the compound to the Defense Reutilization & Marketing Office (DRMO). In October 2011, Welch and a co-conspirator entered into an alleged scheme to steal and later sell approximately 38 generators on the black market in Iraq to unknown co-conspirators by diverting these generators from the DRMO to an undisclosed location off-base in Iraq. Allegedly, after the generators were stolen from the compound Welch’s co-conspirator provided him with approximately $38,600.

The court documents do not identify the co-conspirator by name in this case. Therefore it is unclear whether the co-conspirator has also pleaded guilty, or is currently aiding the U.S. government in its investigation of others.

Welch has pleaded to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States. Specifically, the conspiracy that Welch has been accused of relates to the theft or bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds, 18 U.S.C. § 666. The statute applies to any organization, government, or agency that receives, in any one year period, benefits in excess of $10,000 under a Federal program involving a grant, contract, subsidy, loan, guarantee, insurance, or other form of Federal assistance. Federal contractors and their agents are typically subject to criminal liability under this statute because they receive at least $10,000 in Federal funding in a one year period.

At sentencing, scheduled for July 9, 2012, Welch faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release following his prison term. As part of his guilty plea, Welch agreed to pay $160,000 in restitution to the United States.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrari-legal.com.

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