Arivaca man pleads guilty to taking kickback from Afghan subcontractor

A former project manager of a U.S. construction company from Arivaca, working on U.S. government contracts in Afghanistan who solicited a $60,000 kickback from an Afghan subcontractor pleaded guilty on Wednesday in federal court in Tucson, Arizona.

Robert L. Bertolini, 67, of Arivaca, Arizona, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and receive an illegal kickback.

Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, Tucson
Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, Tucson
He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 8, 2014.

According to court documents, Bertolini worked for a construction company that received a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contract to build a forward operating base for the Afghan National Army in Kabul Province, Afghanistan.

The company for which Bertolini worked entered into a subcontract with an Afghan construction company. Shortly after the subcontract was awarded in the spring of 2011, Bertolini solicited personal financial benefits from the subcontractor, including a $60,000 kickback and employment for his son.

On May 11, 2011, the subcontractor’s vice president wired approximately $59,975 from Afghanistan to Bertolini’s son’s bank account in Ohio.

In return, Bertolini approved two modifications on the subcontract – for which Bertolini did not have actual approval from his company – that were worth $980,000 and $680,000 respectively.

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