ATLANTA (Reuters) - A U.S. Defense Department employee based in Afghanistan has been charged with taking a $95,000 bribe from a contractor after federal authorities said they found his backpack stuffed with cash.
Desi Deandre Wade, 39, of Climax, Georgia, was arrested Wednesday in Atlanta, where he had traveled for the Fire Rescue International Conference, officials said on Thursday.
He pleaded not guilty on Thursday, according to Patrick Crosby, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
While at the convention, Wade, the Defense Department’s chief of fire and emergency services in Kabul, accepted the cash from an Afghan-based company in exchange for the guarantee of a government contract, prosecutors said.
Under the scheme, Wade would provide the company with other bidders’ quotes so that it would be the low bidder and get the contract, according to prosecutors.
Federal investigators had received information more than a month ago that Wade was directing contracts to certain bidders for personal gain, authorities said.
“This Department of Defense employee is charged with selling his position of public trust for cash,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates said in statement.
“While he was supposed to be working to support our troops, he was lining his pockets.”
Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton