Army major pleads guilty to kickback scheme

dprice@thestate.comJanuary 3, 2013 

A Sumter native and U.S. Army major pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to illegally taking money from contractors while he was deployed in Iraq.

40-year-old Ulysses S. Hicks pleaded guilty to conspiracy to accepting illegal gratuities, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release. He faces up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised release at sentencing.

While Hicks was deployed as a captain to Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq between March 2007 and October 2008, he was tasked with paying for items like paint, lumber and plywood from local vendors to be used in a building at the installation, the release states.

While purchasing materials for the building, he and co-conspirator Master Sgt. Julio Soto Jr. accepted kickback payments from Iraqi contractors in exchange for helping them get contracts from the U.S. Government. The two would then send the payments back to the United States in money orders.

Soto pleaded guilty to a similar charge in August. He was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $62,542 in restitution to the U.S. government.

As part of Hicks’ plea, he will pay $65,409 in restitution to the government plus interest.

The case was investigated and prosecuted by several justice department and U.S. Army agencies.

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