This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Posted: 6:30 PM- Army officer Curtis Whiteford was warned by his wife against taking unearned cash from a contractor in Iraq, and he promised her in an e-mail that he would end his part in the corruption, according to documents filed earlier this month in federal court.
But prosecutors allege Whiteford, a former Riverton resident, continued to accept thousands of dollars in gifts including several unauthorized trips home to Utah. He also tried to get a contractor to buy him a sports car and authorized the purchase of weapons, using U.S. government funds, on behalf of a private security company he planned to run with other conspirators.
Whiteford, who was indicted one year ago Friday, faces with four others charges of rigging bids on contracts being awarded by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which at the time was the U.S.-led interim government of Iraq, directing $8.6 million to companies owned and operated by American businessman Philip Bloom.
Whiteford has pleaded not guilty and jury selection for the case is scheduled to begin March 11 in United States District Court in New Jersey. Meanwhile, defense attorneys are attempting to have the case dismissed, arguing that the indicted persons were not acting as "public officials" as defined by federal statute, at the time of the alleged offenses.
The case is just one of dozens of similar stories unveiled by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which investigates fraud, waste and abuse in Iraq rebuilding projects.
But the Whiteford e-mails, which show a family struggling over the consequences of involvement in allegedly illegal acts, offer a rare glimpse into the human element of the inspector general's cases, which have involved scores of soldiers and contractors and cost the U.S. and Iraqi governments billions of dollars.
Whiteford resigned from the Utah National Guard in 2002 after an investigation of his pay records revealed "an extraordinary number of days with additional pay." But although Whiteford left the Guard under fire, he didn't resign his Army commission - and that allowed him to transfer into a job with the Army Reserve's California-based 91st Division.
Within a year, he was back in uniform and stationed in Iraq, where he was given the authority to authorize up to $500,000 at a time in expenditures without higher permission, according to court documents.
Following one trip home, allegedly paid for by Bloom, Whiteford received an e-mail from his wife in which she expressed grave reservations about his conduct.
"I may be paranoid but I sometimes feels like every communication we have is being monitored," Carol Whiteford wrote. "The fact is that you work for the Army and are only entitled to that which you earn."
In the letter, Carol Whiteford appears to refer to the Olympic pay scandal that cost her husband, a former senior aviation administrator, his National Guard career. Whiteford was accused of, but never prosecuted for, claiming too many days of additional compensation from the Guard, even though he already had been paid in full for work he had done.
"I asked you about your comp time all the time and you said that it was OK," but, she wrote, "it was questionable. . .
"I am tired of having my gut in a knot and I figure that I have been right before," she continued. "I just don't want to be left alone to figure out how to house feed and clothe all these kids with you in the klink. I scares me to death."
The Whitefords, who at the time had been married for nearly 30 years, have eight children.
In response, Curtis Whiteford wrote to his wife that there was "no need to fear," according to the court documents. "After being home with you and discussing the situation I decided on my own to not use any unearned [dollars] again."
But prosecutors allege that through much of the following year, Whiteford continued to help steer contracts to Bloom, worked to procure licenses for Bloom to open a new Baghdad airline and used U.S. funds to purchase weapons, including several rocket launchers, for the security company he planned to open which was to be called "Anaconda."
The "key objectives of the company," Whiteford allegedly wrote in an e-mail to the others involved in the case, "are making money while allowing us to look cool and have cool stuff."
A woman who answered the phone at Whiteford's listed number in Box Elder County said Whiteford was not available and said that information about the case that previously had been reported was untrue. She declined to cite specifics, however and would not provide her name.