Ex-US official gets 19 years for bribery scheme

WASHINGTON (AP) — A former manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was sentenced Thursday to more than 19 years in prison for masterminding a $30 million bribery and kickback scheme described by authorities as unprecedented in federal contracting.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan called Kerry Khan’s conduct, which included wiretapped conversations referring to a planned sexual encounter with a teenage girl, “shocking, vicious and cruel,” as he imposed a sentence several years longer than what prosecutors had requested.

Khan, a resident of the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty last year to orchestrating the fraud, which prosecutors call the largest domestic bribery and bid-rigging scheme in the history of federal contracting.

The 55-year-old defendant acknowledged collecting bribes from corrupt contractors in exchange for approving bogus or inflated invoices for services that were never provided. He used the funds to pay for luxuries including Rolex watches, first-class airplane tickets and expensive clothes and liquor.

“For the wrong reasons,” Sullivan told Khan before sentencing him, “you made history.”

Khan apologized before he was sentenced.

“I deeply regret this, your Honor. I would like for you to know — I can honestly say this to you — I am a transformed person now,” Khan said.

Though prosecutors requested a 15-year sentence, Khan’s lawyer asked for 10 years , citing cooperation he has provided in a wide-ranging investigation that has yielded guilty pleas from 15 people and one company to date.

Besides the fraud, prosecutors say they intercepted wiretapped phone calls and text messages in which he voiced pleasure about a physical assault on his mistress in the Philippines and revealed his plan to travel to the island country to have sex with a girl described to him as 15 years old.

“Kerry Khan had a huge appetite for risk-taking, exhibited extraordinary greed and was a criminal at heart,” federal prosecutor Michael Atkinson said.

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