Plea hearing for US official charged with bribery

ATLANTA (AP) — A high-ranking Department of Defense official who was charged with taking a bribe from a contractor for work in Afghanistan is set to plead guilty next week, his attorney said.

Desi Deandre Wade was arrested in August after prosecutors said he took a $95,000 bribe from a contractor at the Fire-Rescue International Conference in Atlanta. His attorney, Ebony Ameen, said her client is set to plead guilty at a Dec. 21 hearing but declined further comment.

Wade was the department's Chief of Fire and Emergency Services in Afghanistan when he was arrested. Authorities said they began to monitor him in July when Afghanistan-based investigators got a tip that he received a $4,000 bribe to award a maintenance contract to a firm.

He later proposed steering a much larger contract to the same company for a percentage that amounted to about $100,000, prosecutors said. He said he would feed the company quotes from rivals to ensure that it would be the lowest bidder to land the contract, they said.

Investigators were waiting for him when he traveled to Atlanta to attend the conference. Once there, prosecutors said he repeated to the contractor that he wanted $100,000 for awarding the new contract to the company, and offered to disclose other companies' bids. He was arrested shortly after accepting several bundles of cash, and authorities said they found his backpack stuffed with the money.

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