A high-ranking Defense Department official with influence over federal contracts pleaded guilty Wednesday to accepting bribes.
“I’m accepting responsibility and ready to move forward,” Desi Deandre Wade, who was the department’s chief of fire and emergency services in Afghanistan, said in federal court in Atlanta.
Wade was arrested Aug. 24 at an Atlanta hotel after accepting $95,000 in cash from a contractor working undercover for the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Services.
Afghan-based investigators were tipped off about Wade in July after he took a $4,000 bribe in exchange for facilitating the awarding of a federal contract. That led to the sting operation in Atlanta, which coincided with an international fire safety convention.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McBurney, the 40-year-old Gulf War veteran wanted 5 percent of the profits generated from a $4.5 million contract and finally agreed to accept $95,000.
“We have the defendant’s own words on tape,” said McBurney, along with Wade’s confession.
“It was just wrong in so many ways,” Wade told U.S. District Judge Willis Hunt.
Wade, of Climax, Ga., faces up to 15 years in prison but, because he has no criminal record, will likely receive a much lighter sentence, said his attorney, Ebony Ameen. Sentencing is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 29.
Wade’s lawyers cited economic hardship as a factor behind his influence peddling.
“He’s a good guy who made one bad decision,” Ameen said.
Wade has been on leave with the Defense Department since his arrest in August.
— by Christian Boone – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – This article appears at http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/defense-official-pleads-guilty-1267121.html.