ATLANTA -- A high-ranking Department of Defense employee was charged Thursday with taking a bribe at an international conference in Atlanta to steer lucrative federal contracts for work in Afghanistan to a contractor.
Desi Deandre Wade, the department's Chief of Fire and Emergency Services in Afghanistan, was arrested Wednesday at the Fire-Rescue International Conference in downtown Atlanta after he took $95,000 in cash from a contractor, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said.
"While he was supposed to be working to support our troops, he was lining his pockets," she said.
Wade's attorney Allison Dawson said at an initial hearing Thursday that her client, a military veteran, intended to plead not guilty.
"We're astonished at these charges against someone who has served his country for 20 years," she said.
Afghanistan-based investigators received a tip in July that Wade received a $4,000 bribe to award a maintenance contract to a company and quickly began to monitor him, according to federal documents.
He later proposed steering a much larger contract to the same company for a percentage of a deal 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, which began Monday at the Georgia World Congress Center. Once there, 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, according to the charges.
He was arrested shortly after accepting several bundles of cash from the bidder around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday and stuffing the money in his backpack, prosecutors said.
Wade, who said little at the hearing, was released on an unsecured $20,000 bond. Authorities said he will soon be removed from his job. Authorities said he is from Climax, Ga.