Florida Keys deputy charged with conspiracy, money laundering

 

KeysNet.com

Federal agents arrested a Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputy Tuesday on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Deputy Jason Strong, 40, is accused of "conspiring to steal and sell government property" while he was a defense contractor in Iraq for the Chantilly, Va.-based security firm Security Operations Consulting.

Monroe sheriff's Office spokeswoman Deputy Becky Herrin said Strong worked in Baghdad from 2005 and 2008. He's worked for the sheriff's office since October 2010, when he started out as an auxiliary deputy. He was hired full time in April 2011 and assigned to the city of Marathon. Before his arrest, he was assigned to the Upper Keys.

According to the U.S. Marshals Service warrant, Strong was arrested at his home in Miami-Dade. Herrin said federal agents took a large amount of property from his home. Herrin said she did not know any of the specifics of the case.

It is not clear if Strong's case is related to another former Security Operations Consulting employee, Chad Eric O'Kelley, who worked for the company in Iraq from January 2007 to July 2008.

Both O’Kelley and Strong held the title of "deputy in country manager" for the company. One of its jobs was to supply coalition forces with ammunition.

According to a May 2011 indictment from U.S. District Court in Western Texas, the same district that issued Strong's warrant, O'Kelley "and his co-conspirators" used U.S.-owned ammunition they somehow obtained to fulfill Security Operations Consulting's contracts to supply coalition bases, "thereby effectively requiring the United States to pay for the ammunition twice."

O'Kelley and the other coconspirators allegedly obtained invoices that purported to show the purchase of the ammunition from private entities and submitted those invoices to Security Operations Consulting, along with claims requesting money to be used to buy more ammunition, according to the indictment.

Security Operations Consulting issued checks payable to O'Kelley and the others. These checks were cashed at the military finance office in Baghdad. O'Kelley was also accused of transporting more than $10,000 out of Iraq into the United States. He was arrested in June 2011.

O'Kelley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to federal money laundering charges in January and at the same time, federal prosecutors dismissed charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, according to court documents.

U.S. District Court Judge Frank Montalvo on Jan. 28 sentenced him to three years probation, including six months of house arrest.

Neither O'Kelley's federal public defender, William R. Maynard, nor Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Edward McDonald could be reached for comment about any relationship between O'Kelley's and Strong's cases. Strong also couldn't be reached.

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