Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Retired US Army Colonel Charged In Haiti Bribery Scheme
He’s an influential Haitian-American who hosted Haitian prime ministers and U.S. lawmakers at his Maryland home and informally advised the U.S. State Department on matters concerning Haiti.
Now Dr. Joseph Baptiste, a retired U.S. Army colonel and practicing dentist, is accused of conspiring to bribe senior Haitian government officials to win support for an $84 million port project in the country’s northern region. And he funneled the $50,000 in bribes through his nonprofit charity meant to help Haiti’s poor, a federal agent said.
Baptiste, 64, was arrested on Tuesday at his home in Maryland after being charged in federal court in Boston with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and to commit money laundering.
Baptiste supposedly cut a plea deal at the end of December 2015 but backed out of it, according to authorities. It’s unclear why the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston waited so long to charge him. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Maryland, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts. His attorney, Donald LaRoche, could not be reached for comment.
The case against Baptiste unfolded in Boston, part of a 2014 U.S. government probe into allegations that Haitian-American businessmen had been offering to bribe high-level Haitian government officials in exchange for the ability to do business in Haiti, according to court documents.
According to the criminal complaint, Baptiste solicited bribes from an undercover FBI agent “purportedly to be paid to Haitian government officials” in connection with Haitian infrastructure projects, including a mining project and the construction of an $84 million port in Mole-Saint-Nicolas.
Meeting with the agent in November 2014 in Boston, Baptiste said he could facilitate a meeting with “top-level Haitian government officials” and described how he could steer payments to them by offering to get financing for lawmakers’ pet projects, funneling the money through his Maryland nonprofit. Only part of the donations would be used for the actual projects, the rest going to pay off officials, the complaint said.
“I believe that when Baptiste discussed giving a $100,000 donation to build a school, but spending only $80,000 to build the school, he was giving an example of how to funnel a bribe — the remaining $20,000 — to a government official,” special agent Garett Trombly wrote in support of the criminal complaint.
Baptiste, Trombly said, admitted that a “pay-to-play” system existed in Haiti.
Trombly described other incidents where Baptiste, the chair and founder of the nonprofit, National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians, bragged about his access to top government officials and past bribe payments funneled through his nonprofit to get cellular and power-plant licenses in Haiti.
While Baptiste had a tradition of hosting Haitian dignitaries — and Democrats running for U.S. office — at his home, he might have exaggerated his contacts, access, and role in Haiti’s business environment with federal agents.
The proposal to build a port at Mole-Saint-Nicolas didn’t go anywhere. It was dismissed by then-Haiti Finance Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie in 2014 and also by then-Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe who thought it wasn’t feasible. The criminal complaint doesn’t name the Haitian government official whom Baptiste said he needed to pay in order to ensure the project’s success. Baptiste received $50,000 in wired funds from the FBI to his nonprofit, Trombly said, which he “ultimately used … for personal purposes.”
©2017 Miami Herald. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal officially endorsed Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) for president on July 18. A former Marine infantry officer who deployed to Iraq four times, Moulton joined McChrystal on MSNBC to discuss the endorsement, and whether he's bothered that he hasn't found a spot on the crowded Democratic debates so far.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump announced.
"The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance – approximately 1,000 yards – ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew," Trump said during a White House ceremony. "The drone was immediately destroyed."
"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," he continued. "The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, our interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the Strait and to work with us in the future."
The Army may be celebrating its prized Army Futures Command (AFC) reaching full operational capability, but the organization's leaders still have quite a to-do list in front of them.
AFC commander Gen. John Murray briefed reporters on Thursday alongside Bruce Jette, the Army's Assistant Secretary of Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, on the progress of the Army's modernization roadmap and what's coming down the pipe to help soldiers soldiers win the conflicts of the future.
But while that lawmakers skirted questions on the war in Afghanistan during former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper's confirmation hearing for defense secretary this week, AFC's top priority remains, first and foremost, the soldiers fighting in conflict zones right now.
The official trailer for Top Gun: Maverick is here, and if you were praying to God there would be another volleyball scene, you are in luck.
Slated to hit theaters in 2020, the sequel to 1986 classic features Tom Cruise back in the role of Maverick, only this time he's a Navy captain behind the stick of an F/A-18 Hornet.
The two-minute trailer features a number of throwbacks to the original Top Gun: There's Maverick pulling the cover off his motorcycle and driving down the flight line, a shirtless volleyballer (there was no way you would have escaped this), and a piano-playing scene with Great Balls of Fire, my man.
Directed by Joseph Kosinski, the film also stars Jon Hamm, Jennifer Connelly, Miles Teller, and Ed Harris. The film hits theaters on June 26, 2020.
Watch the trailer below:
Top Gun: Maverick - Official Trailer (2020) - Paramount Pictures www.youtube.com