Ex-colonel from Lacey gets probation for conflict of interest in business deals

Staff writerOctober 18, 2013 

An ex-Army contracting officer who set up a family business that profited from a contact he made during his deployment to Iraq will serve three years of probation for operating a company with a criminal conflict of interest.

Former Lt. Col. Harold Broek, 49, of Lacey also must repay the government $52,400 his family business earned off of war-related contracts.

He had faced up to five years in prison after pleading guilty this summer to the offense of criminal conflict of interest. His family members were not charged with a crime.

Broek and his family told U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle this week that his younger brother and sister-in-law were the ones who profited from the company, Global Motion. Broek said he quickly tried to unwind his and his wife’s participation in the business when they realized their involvement could be illegal.

“What I did was wrong,” Broek wrote in a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle. “I sinned against my God, embarrassed my family, and have embarrassed the U.S. Army.”

In 2007, Broek was the chief contracting officer for the Tikrit Regional Contracting Center, supplying military operations north of Baghdad. While there, he worked with a businessman named Rohit Goel, who ran a company called Avalon International Limited. The Justice Department found Broek personally awarded 24 contracts to Avalon worth $418,198 that year.

While in uniform in Iraq, Broek talked with Goel about how a private business might support Avalon’s work. When he returned to Washington State in 2008, he communicated with Goel about Global Motion, the business he’d launched with his wife, brother and sister-in-law.

According to the Justice Department, Avalon won contracts to supply the U.S. military with material bought from Global Motion. Avalon fronted money to Global Motion to buy equipment, which the Broek company delivered to Avalon after keeping 30 percent of the profit.

In one instance, Broek, as an Army officer, changed a contract in 2007 and his family’s business ultimately made $30,725 by supplying Goel’s with material from that transaction.

“The many other contracts directed to Global Motion by Avalon, though awarded and directed after Broek left Iraq, nonetheless also stink of fraud, corruption and conflict,” Assistant U.S. Attorney David Reese Jennings wrote in a brief to Settle in which he sought jail time for Broek.

“One has to ask why, and under what circumstances, would a foreign contractor like Avalon contract with Global Motion, a newly formed company that had zero experience in contracting? In fact, the only reason Avalon contracted with Global Motion was because of Lt. Col. Broek.”

In his letter to the judge, Broek characterized his involvement in the company as simply generating the idea for Global Motion and introducing his family members to Goel.

“I wrongly believed that by not being involved, I was not breaking the law,” he wrote. “However, that is no excuse for a senior officer in the U.S. Army.”

In 2007 and 2008, Global Motion did $467,736 worth of business with the Iraqi company and reported gross income of $52,400 in 2008. That’s the sum Broek must repay as restitution.

Broek, who has four children, first met with Army criminal investigators about his company in 2007. He told Settle he and his wife extracted themselves from Global Motion after that interview. He said he advised his brother and sister-in-law to fold the company, but they did not.

“Although frustrated that they would not shut it down, I realized I had no control of them,” Broek wrote to Settle.

Adam Ashton: 253-597-8646
adam.ashton@thenewstribune.com

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