Rossville man pleads guilty to laundering Afghan contractors' bribe money

Rossville man pleads guilty to laundering Afghan contractors' bribe money

May 28th, 2014 by Judy Walton in Local - Breaking News

A Rossville man has pleaded guilty to laundering some $250,000 in bribe money received from Afghan contractors in Afghanistan, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

James C. Pittman, 45, pleaded guilty Thursday before Magistrate Judge William B. Carter and will be sentenced Sept. 8, according to a news release.

Pittman was accused along with Jimmy W. Dennis, 44, a former 1st sergeant with the U.S. Army. Pittman pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee to conspiracy to launder money. Sentencing is set for Sept. 4.

Court records show that Dennis was a member of a U.S. Army team at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan that bought supplies from local Afghan vendors for humanitarian relief. From March 2008 through March 2009, Dennis and a partner steered contracts to favored vendors in return and were paid about $250,000 in cash bribes, records show.

Dennis smuggled the bribe money back to the United States hidden in packages addressed to his wife, his father and a former Army friend, Pittman. Dennis sent $80,000 to $100,000 to his father in packages that contained toy trucks and in a hope chest, the release stated.

While on leave, according to court documents, Dennis met with Pittman and asked him to help launder the money. Pittman, owner of a landscaping business, received about $60,000 to Pittman, who returned it in the form of purported salary checks from Pittman's company.

This investigation was conducted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the FBI, the Army Criminal Investigative Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Air Force Office of Special Investigation.

The prosecution team included and James Brooks of the Eastern District of Tennessee.