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Army Officer, Others Indicted On Bribery

A U.S. Army major and two of his family members, accused of taking bribes from Defense Department contractors in 2004 and 2005, were indicted Wednesday in federal court.

Maj. John Cockerham, a contract officer, and his wife, Melissa Cockerham, are accused of taking at least $9.6 million in bribes while Cockerham was stationed in Kuwait and responsible for contracts for Defense Department services, including bottled water for soldiers in Kuwait and Iraq.

The Cockerhams were arrested last month at Fort Sam Houston, where the major had been reassigned. His sister, Carolyn Blake, was arrested at her home in Sunnyvale on suspicion of helping the couple accept and deposit money in offshore accounts.

Maj. Cockerham is accused of guaranteeing that contractors would receive lucrative contracts in exchange for cash deposited in bank accounts and safe deposit boxes by his wife and sister in Kuwait and Dubai.

The charges include bribery, conspiracy, money laundering and obstruction. The Cockerhams are being held without bond; Blake was released on bail by a federal court in Dallas last month.

A telephone message left after hours at the office of Jimmy Parks Jr., who represents Maj. Cockerham, was not immediately returned.

Parks had said that the couple would probably be indicted but that the case was not as straightforward as prosecutors were presenting. He noted that Defense Department contracts have checks and balances requiring officers and lawyers above John Cockerham's rank to check and approve contracts.

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