A former U.S. soldier from Humble, Texas is accused of stealing and laundering more than $100,000 from the American government during a deployment to Iraq, authorities announced Thursday.
Former Army officer Abuzuike O. Ukabam, 34, was arrested in Los Angeles Wednesday on a nine-count federal indictment that alleges wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and false statements in connection with his military service.
During a deployment to Iraq in late 2006, Ukabam was assigned to work as a purchasing agent. As such, he was responsible for receiving and making sure that invoices from Iraqi contractors, who performed jobs for the Army at Forward Operating Base Justice, were properly paid, authorities said.
Ukabam allegedly changed invoices by increasing the total amount due, then paid the Iraqi contractor the original invoice amount and kept the difference in cash, authorities said. He allegedly stole about $110,000.
After leaving Iraq in late 2007 and going to Germany, he allegedly deposited some of the money in German bank accounts and instructed certain amounts to be wired to his account in the U.S., authorities said.
He was arrested by agents with the Defense Contractors Investigative Service. Ukabam is expected to be transferred to Houston to face the charges.
If convicted of wire fraud, Ukabam could face up to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts charged. The three counts of theft of government property and the two counts of money laundering can carry 10-year sentences for each conviction.
He also faces up to five years for each of two possible convictions of making false statements. The fine for each count, upon conviction, is up to $250,000.