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Ex-State Department Official Charged With Taking Bribe

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Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A former U.S. State Department official and travel author was arrested by the FBI and accused of taking a $30,000 bribe linked to the renovation of a prison in Afghanistan, according to papers unsealed in federal court in Delaware.

Kenneth Michael Brophy, who supervised Afghan contractors in renovation of the Pol-i-Charki Prison in Kabul, was charged with receipt of an illegal gratuity by a public official and willful receipt by an executive branch employee of a payment for assisting the contractor, Katherine Arden, a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent, said in court papers.

“There is probable cause to believe that Brophy accepted an illegal $30,000 payment” from the unidentified Afghan firm in exchange for “lobbying” the Army Corps of Engineers on behalf of a company contract appeal, Arden wrote.

Brophy, 64, a civil and structural engineer, worked for the State Department from 2008 to 2010, according to Arden. He was arrested Oct. 14 after he traveled to Delaware to attend a relative’s wedding, and was released pending trial, according to court papers. Brophy is the author of the Afghanistan edition of “A Photo Journal: Seldom Seen Sights.”

Coat Pocket

During an investigation, Brophy told authorities the alleged cash bribe was actually “slipped” into his coat pocket and he “did not notice the money” until he returned to his billet in the U.S. Embassy, Arden wrote.

Brophy claimed his wife in Dubai gave him $50,000 and that there was about $500,000 in cash and collectible stamps stored in a relative’s basement in Delaware, the agent said.

Federal agents found $29,000 in cash when they searched his Kabul quarters, Arden said.

Brophy’s lawyer, Edmund D. Lyons Jr., said his client has spent most of his time outside the U.S. and has homes in Indonesia and Maine. Brophy is under house arrest in Delaware pending a hearing set for Oct. 26.

The case is USA v. Brophy, 12-mj-00171, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Phil Milford in Wilmington, Delaware, at pmilford@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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