$3.7M in Iraq Bribes, Kickbacks Get Contractor 13-Year Sentence
John Alfy Salama Markus, 40, of Bushkill Township, pleaded guilty in September to taking at least $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks from government contracts in Iraq.
An area man who worked for the U.S. government in Iraq has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking at least $3.7 million in bribes and kickbacks—money he used for the construction of a custom-built home in Bushkill Township worth more than $1.1 million.
John Alfy Salama Markus, 40, of the 400 block of Jacob Court, was sentenced Tuesday to 156 months in prison, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Salama Markus pleaded guilty in September before a federal judge in Newark, N.J., to taking the money in connection with more than $50 million in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracts in Iraq. He was an Army Corps employee at the time.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of a 54-count indictment returned in July 2011 that charged him with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and to defraud the U.S. government, money laundering and tax offenses. Two other Army corps employees and two foreign contractors also were charged in the indictment.
As part of the plea, Salama Markus—a U.S. citizen born in Egypt—agreed to forfeit at least $3.7 million. Part of that will be satisfied by forfeiting the Jacob Court house as well as five vehicles and two motorcycles.
Northampton County property records list the owners of the Jacob Court house as “John Salama” and a woman. The sale price, recorded Feb. 6, 2009, was $1,093,933.
A previous news story described Salama Markus as being a soldier in Iraq before going to work for the Army corps. An attorney for Salama Markus said in the story Salama Markus was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
According to the U.S. Attorney, Salama Markus was assigned to Tikrit, Iraq, as a project engineer from September 2005 to July 2008. He was involved in the review and award process for contractors seeking “lucrative” Army corps contracts in Gulf Region North, Iraq, as well as the administration, oversight and modification of the contracts after they were awarded.
From July 2007 to June 2008, Salama Markus accepted at least $3.7 million in bribe and kickback payments in connection with contracts awarded to multiple companies associated with two foreign contractors named in the indictment.
Salama Markus admitted to providing confidential bid and Army corps pricing information to the contractors. He also e-mailed spreadsheets that included payments he demanded. A July 2008 e-mail includes his demand and acceptance of bribes totaling $1.95 million—10 percent of the contract value— from one of the contractors.
The U.S. Attorney’s information says Salama Markus admitted that on Oct. 16, 2008—the date of settlement on his Jacob Court home—he obtained a cashier’s check of "approximately" $850,807.54 made out to a title company in connection with the home’s construction.
”Salama Markus treated projects to secure safe access to fuel, electricity, education and medical treatment as prizes to be won by whoever was willing to pay for them,” Fishman said in September.
”Bribery, whether at home or abroad, violates our laws and tarnishes all who serve our country with honor,” he continued. “It should never be viewed as part of the cost of doing business with the United States."