HOUSTON — A former U.S. soldier from Humble 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 designated to work as a purchasing agent. He was responsible for receiving and making sure invoices from Iraqi contractors, who worked at the Forward Operating Base Justice in performing jobs for the Army, were properly paid, authorities said.
Ukabam allegedly changed invoices by increasing the total amount due for the invoice, 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 into 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 and is expected to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge in California Thursday morning. Ukabam will be transferred to Houston to face the charges here.
If convicted of wire fraud, Ukabam faces 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.