Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Curtis Whiteford Sentencing

- Debra Harrison and I -

- Curtis Whiteford, at his desk in his office in the Hotel Babylon, Al Hilla, Iraq -

"Curtis Whiteford, a former colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, was sentenced today to five years in prison for his participation in a wide-ranging bribery conspiracy in Al-Hillah, Iraq." I knew Curtis Whiteford and worked with him while I was in Iraq. I have written about this wide ranging and complex incident previously, in February 2007, August 2008 and June 2009.

"Whiteford, 53, of Deweyville, Utah, was charged in a 25-count indictment unsealed on Feb. 7, 2007, along with former U.S. Army Lt. Col. Debra M. Harrison, former U.S. Army Reserves Lt. Col. Michael Wheeler, and civilians William Driver and Seymour Morris Jr., with various crimes related to a scheme to defraud the Coalition Provisional Authority-South Central Region (CPA-SC) ... According to testimony at trial, Whiteford and Wheeler conspired from December 2003 to December 2005 with at least three others--Robert Stein, at the time the comptroller and funding officer for the CPA-SC; Philip H. Bloom, a U.S. citizen who owned and operated several companies in Iraq and Romania; and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bruce D. Hopfengardner--to rig the bids on contracts being awarded by the CPA-SC so that more than 20 contracts were awarded to Bloom. "

I worked with Whiteford, Harrison, Hopfengardner and Wheeler at CPA-SC for five months, from October 2003 to February 2004. Debra Harrison worked for me during the period that I was there. To my knowledge, her crimes were committed after I left Hillah (she remained behind in Iraq until July 2004). I had no idea Debra or any of these other people were conspiring to defraud anyone.

Debra Harrison, federal register # 60327-050, is currently residing in a minimum security federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia. Her projected release date is November 17, 2011.

There was a lot of money, cash money, being passed out all over Iraq during this period. The banking system didn't work. No one accepted credit cards. Checks were out of the question. All of the reconstruction contracts were done as drug deals, with bags of cash (American dollars) handed over, moved about and stored. I read military situation reports about the movements of truckloads and planeloads of cash.

I wasn't in on the money side of the business. My good friend Leo Rivera passed out a lot of cash during the same period while he was in Tikrit with the 4th Division. There was cash around, but I didn't see it, touch it feel it or smell it. And I didn't want to.

Had I known that there was any criminal activity I would have reported it immediately. But I didn't know about it. By virtue of the rank Curtis Whiteford held, the oath that he took and the daily interactions that I had with him over a five month period, I had faith and confidence that Curt was executing his job as Chief of Staff properly.

Boy was I wrong.
(Debra Harrison giving bottled water to some Iraqi children)


  1. Anonymous12:22 PM

    Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing …


  2. Anonymous12:22 PM

    It sounds like you're creating problems yourself by trying to solve this issue instead of looking at why their is a problem in the first place.


  3. Anonymous12:00 PM

    You might still Be Wrong!

  4. Anonymous3:54 PM

    I am Debra's sister. She knew nothing of any illegal activity at CPA-SC Iraq.

    While in Iraq, Debra unknowingly suffered from a large brain tumor that seriously negatively impacted her mental abilities. It showed in many ways. One was her inability to understand sound. She kept asking others to repeat themselves, but when her hearing was tested it was normal. She could hear sound, but was unable to interpret that sound into intelligible words. Another was her lack of flexibility. The information that she processed first was what she did. She lost her ability to accurately process information.

    Her medical records show she was unable to make any decisions other than what she made while in Iraq. She was able to continue and maintain, because she was not alone. After her Unit was gone, her Buddy was gone, and her mind was gone she fell apart.

    Though documented medical testimony regarding the extent of the brain damage she endured from her brain tumor was available to the court, Debra was physically and mentally unable to continue any legal defense. She accepted a plea deal offered by the DOJ. Still, today, if asked what "Honest Services Wire Fraud" means she doesn't know. Her mental deficits are profound.

    It may seem strange, but she likes Alderson. She insists it's better than any place she ever stayed while in the military. The beds are certainly more comfortable than the marble floors she slept on in Saddam's Palace.

    Without the brain tumor the situation at CPA-SC would not have involved Debra, but it did. Hindsight is 20/20, but there is no way to go back to diagnose the tumor when it first began to grow. There is no way to fix this.

  5. Anonymous2:09 PM

    RE: Curt Whiteford

    You way "Boy was I wrong" about your high opinion of Curt Whiteford when you all were in Iraq. I think you are over-simplifying the issue, and you may not be so "wrong" after all...

    I heard all the testimony. Whiteford was convicted of the vague charge of "Conspiracy" and was acquitted of all 12 specific counts such as bribery and wire fraud. This is very confusing: how can you be guilty of conspiracy and be innocent of every specific underlying count? It makes no sense, and obviously reflects dissension and uncertainty among members of the jury. "Conspiracy" is a favorite charge of prosecutors: when they can't get you on anything specific, they hit you with a "Conspiracy" charge because it's so vague and difficult to defend against. Many lawyers feel most "Conspiracy" charges are a violation of the Constitution.

    Whatever Curt Whiteford did -- and it's not very clear from the trial testimony what exactly he did do -- he should pay restitution and serve several months of community service. The man has suffered enough, and never made any attempt to hide. To sentence him to five years in jail is prosecutorial over-kill and a mockery of justice.