ATLANTA — An attorney for a high-ranking Department of Defense employee charged with taking a bribe to steer federal contracts for work in Afghanistan to a contractor says he’s set to plead guilty.
Desi Deandre Wade’s attorney Ebony Ameen said her client intends to change his plea at a Dec. 21 hearing but declined further comment.
Wade was the department’s Chief of Fire and Emergency Services in Afghanistan. He was arrested in August after prosecutors said he took $95,000 from a contractor at the Fire-Rescue International Conference in Atlanta.
Afghanistan-based investigators said they received a tip in July that Wade received a $4,000 bribe to award a contract to a company. They say he later proposed steering a contract to that firm for about $100,000.
Fla. Ponzi scammer begins 2-week lawyer grilling
MIAMI — To avoid possibly dying in prison, convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein is naming names and pledging to tell the complete truth about who else was involved in the $1.2 billion fraud, attorneys said Monday.
More than 30 lawyers representing dozens of wronged investors lined up to question Rothstein about the scheme he ran in his now-defunct Fort Lauderdale law firm, and how much assistance he got from outsiders, mainly bankers and other attorneys.
William Scherer, who represents about 25 investors, said the first few hours of the two-week, closed-door questioning revealed fresh details about other players and illegal actions in the scheme, which imploded in fall 2009. Scherer declined to reveal those details but said transcripts will eventually become public.
“There is some astounding stuff we are hearing,” Scherer said. “The illegalities that went on there are bigger than what I knew. It’s pretty amazing to me.”
For example, Scherer said Rothstein named three other South Florida law firms that supposedly referred hundreds of cases to Rothstein’s firm, some of them likely bogus because the fraud revolved around investments in faked legal settlements. That could make those attorneys part of the Ponzi scheme, with possible criminal liability and also potentially targets of lawsuits by investors see king repayment.
Scherer and others said Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison sentence, promised to come clean in hopes of one day getting out. Federal prosecutors have recommended an unspecified reduction in Rothstein’s sentence, but only if he continues to cooperate in the ongoing criminal investigation and the civil cases.
Another name change for former Blackwater firm
McLEAN, Va. — The security firm once known as Blackwater on Monday changed its name for the second time in less than three years as its owners continue to reshape the company they bought from its founder a year ago.
The Arlington-based company announced it will no longer be known as Xe Services and is now called Academi. The name is inspired by Plato’s Academy in ancient Greece and is designed to connote elite, highly disciplined warriors who are thinkers as well as fighters.
CEO Ted Wright said a new name was needed to reflect changes the company has undergone since a group of investors bought it in December 2010 from founder Erik Prince.
“Simply stated, we are a new company. New ownership team. New board of directors,” Wright said.
Prince founded the company in 1997 in North Carolina and built it into a contractor that provided training and protection for government workers in war zones around the globe. But Blackwater guards were involved in a series of high-profile shootings, none more so than the 2007 shootings in Nisoor Square in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead. Iraq has since banned the company from working i n the country. And four Blackwater guards still face federal prosecution for their actions.
Prince, though, offered aggressive defenses of his company’s work and became a target for critics who said he fostered a trigger-happy culture. In 2009, the company acknowledged the Blackwater name had become tarnished and changed its name to Xe.