Edelweiss bribe case sentencing set for April 18; Ex-employee admitted accepting $350,000

By CHARLIE COON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 19, 2008

Sentencing has been scheduled for April 18 for Steven G. Potoski, who in December 2006 pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for awarding Army contracts to build the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany.

Potoski, 47, was arrested in September 2005 after serving for seven years as director of contracting for Armed Forces Recreation Center Europe.

He later admitted in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of New York to accepting more than $350,000 in bribes from 15 contractors or subcontractors.

Potoski also accepted home renovations, automobile maintenance, airline tickets, hotel rooms and furniture, among other things, from the contractors, according to a Justice Department news release.

Potoski has pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and three counts of filing false tax returns. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the bribery count, and three years in prison and a $100,000 fine for each count of filing false tax returns.

Two other men — contractors Ellis Aaron Abramson, 40, of Merrick, N.Y., and Alvan Vance McQueen II, 58, of Shelbyville, Ind. — were previously convicted and sentenced in the case.

The $80 million, Army-owned Edelweiss hotel opened in September 2004 and is used by Defense Department employees, their families and guests. It is frequently used for Defense-sponsored conferences.

U.S. forces on rest and recuperation leave from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan also use the hotel at discounted rates. It is located in Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps near the Austrian border and is a popular skiing and outdoor sports destination.

The Edelweiss hotel is one of five Armed Forces Recreation Center resorts. The others are in Florida, Virginia, Hawaii and South Korea.

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