11/18/2005: Heard this on the radio this morning....
but I like Chris Kromm's take on the situation:
The New York Times this morning highlights the story of North Carolinian Robert J. Stein, "who was charged yesterday with accepting kickbacks and bribes as a comptroller and financial officer for the American occupation authority in Iraq was hired despite having served prison time for felony fraud in the 1990's."Actually, it may even be more brazen than that. According to the radio report this morning, Stein would embezzle money from the Coalition Provisional Authority, and then pay it over to the United States District Court in North Carolina to pay the restitution ordered by the court as part of his sentence in his fraud case. Y'know, you just gotta admire sheer balls of that magnitude.
I'm all for giving ex-cons a second chance, but putting them in control over $82 million in cash earmarked for Iraqi rebuilding projects? Can't be good:But the list of charges does little justice to the astonishing brazenness of the accusations described in the complaint, including a wire transfer of a $140,000 bribe, arranged by Mr. Bloom, to buy real estate for Mr. Stein in North Carolina. The affidavit also says that $65,762.63 was spent to buy cars for Mr. Stein and his wife (he bought a Chevrolet; she a Toyota), $44,471 for home improvements and $48,073 for jewelry, out of $258,000 sent directly to the Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union into accounts controlled by the Steins. [...]
Much of this money was intended for Iraqi construction projects like building a new police academy in the ancient city of Babylon and rehabilitating the library in Karbala, the southern city that is among the holiest sites for Shiite Muslims.
Of course, in the rehabilitation arena, it helps if you're a rich white guy. Had Stein been a poor black man who'd been to prison for dealing drugs, what do you want to bet he'd have remained unemployed?
Len on 11.18.05 @ 08:17 AM CST