An Army major formerly stationed at Fort Lewis today pleaded guilty to laundering more than $47,000 that was supposed to be spent on humanitarian and reconstruction projects in Iraq, federal prosecutors announced.
Kevin Schrock, 40, of Bradenburg, Ky., entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. He faces up to 20 years in prison and is expected to be sentenced in June. He also must repay $47,461 to the federal government.
Schrock, now stationed at Fort Knox, Ky., stole money from his unit’s Commanders Emergency Relief Program while he was deployed to Mosul, Iraq with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from September 2004 to September 2005.
It’s not the only time a Tacoma-area Army officer has been prosecuted for misusing overseas CERP funding for personal gain. In 2009, a captain from another Stryker brigade admitted taking nearly $700,000.
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The fund is designed to let commanders on the ground build goodwill by paying for infrastructure such as schools or police stations. At the peak of the war in Iraq, Congress was setting aside more than $500 million a year for the effort.
Schrock had access to the CERP fund on the first four months of his deployment as his unit’s “paying agent,” a job that required him to obtain cash from the Army’s finance office and distribute the money.
Later, Schrock had daily contact with contractors in Iraq from January 2005 until his brigade returned to Fort Lewis. That assignment gave him influence over selecting contractors and determining whether they’d be paid, according to his plea agreement.
Schrock came home to Lacey on leave in April 2005 and deposited $18,900 into his bank accounts in two transactions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. After his tour ended, he made 18 more cash deposits totaling more than $28,000.
The last deposit took place in December 2009, according to court documents.
Army investigators interviewed Shrock for the first time in January 2010, asking him about a $14,100 deposit he made in April 2005. He told the investigators it resulted from the sale of a car. Investigators determined the car had a trade-in value of $1,500.
In subsequent interviews last year, Schrock admitted he stole the money and used it to pay off loans.
Army Criminal Investigation Division officers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord investigated the case. Charges were filed in federal court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington last month.
The Army has prosecuted other officers for misusing CERP funds in Iraq. In September 2009, Capt. Michael Dung Nguyen pleaded guilty to stealing $690,000 during a deployment with the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis in 2008. He is serving a 30-month prison sentence.