An Army major, his wife and his sister are facing federal charges stemming from an alleged scheme in which the Army major accepted millions of dollars in bribes –in exchange for Department of Defense contracts in Iraq and Kuwait – and his wife and sister laundered the money.
According to an affidavit, Maj. John Cockerham allegedly accepted millions of dollars in bribes from contractors who had Department of Defense contracts in Iraq and Kuwait that Cockerham either awarded to the contractors or controlled himself. According to the Department of Justice, records obtained in the case indicate that Cockerham allegedly may have received up to $9.6 million in bribe payments from at least eight contractors and that he allegedly anticipated receiving as much as $5.4 million more.
The affidavit also alleges that under Cockerham's direction, his wife, Melissa Cockerham, and his sister, Carolyn Blake, received millions of dollars in U.S. and foreign currency from these contractors and deposited the monies in bank accounts and safe deposit boxes in Kuwait and Dubai.
According to the Justice Department, John Cockerham committed his alleged crimes while serving as an Army contracting officer in Kuwait in 2004 and 2005.
John and Melissa Cockerham were arrested July 22 in San Antonio, Texas. Blake was arrested July 24 in Dallas.
John Cockerham, 41, has been charged with bribery, money laundering and conspiracy. Blake, 44, and Melissa Cockerham, 40, are charged with conspiracy to defraud the government and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
John Cockerham, Melissa Cockerham and Carolyn Blake each face up to 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for the money laundering charge. The bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $250,000 fine.