WASHINGTON - A former U.S. occupation official in Iraq pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to steal more than $2 million and rigging bids on $8.6 million in reconstruction contracts.
Robert J. Stein, 50, of Fayetteville, N.C., admitted that he and his coconspirators smuggled millions of dollars out of Iraq into the United States aboard commercial airliners and laundered cash through multiple bank accounts in Switzerland, Amsterdam and Romania.
Stein was a Defense Department employee who served as a contract official for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, controlling more than $82 million in funds slated for rebuilding the Middle Eastern country.
Not like there weren't any warnings:
The case is a painful reminder of the absolute dearth of planning for rebuilding Iraq after the war. According to reporting by James Glanz in The Times, Mr. Stein was convicted of a fraud-related felony in 1996 and also fired from a job in 2002 for falsifying payroll records and invoices. The American government then sent him to help oversee construction projects in Hilla and the Shiite holy city of Karbala, with $82 million in taxpayer funds.