A former Department of Defense civilian official from Palm Desert was arrested on charges that he took illegal cash payments to support a contractor’s effort to obtain $6.4 million from the government in connection with construction projects in the African nation of Djibouti, the Justice Department announced Monday.
Nizar Farhat who was a former construction manager based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, appeared Monday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, South Carolina, where a judge set his bond at $75,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Farhat, 63, was arrested Friday by FBI agents in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where he has been staying in recent months, according to prosecutors.
Farhat is charged in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Dec. 4 that charges him with being a public official receiving an illegal gratuity and being a public official receiving compensation from a private party for government services.
If convicted of both charges, Farhat would face up to seven years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
In 2014 and 2015, Farhat was on assigned temporary duty at the U.S. Navy Base Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, where he oversaw a private company’s $15 million contract to construct an aircraft hangar and a telecommunications facility. After the projects were completed, the company submitted to the Defense Department Requests for Equitable Adjustment that sought $6.43 million in additional payments.
The indictment alleges that Farhat accepted $20,000 in cash from the company for performing official acts, specifically recommending that the Navy certify completion of the construction projects and pay the additional $6.43 million the company requested in the REAs. The indictment also alleges that Farhat took another $14,000 in cash from the company as compensation for advising the company and drafting the REAs submitted to the Defense Department.
The vast majority of the REAs remain under review by the Defense Department.
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