New Hampshire - A Florida man who serves as a Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves appeared Wednesday on criminal charges related to an alleged bribery scheme involving special visas for Afghan nationals.
According to court documents, Jeromy Pittmann, 53, of Pensacola, Florida, currently residing in Naples, Italy, was paid to draft, submit, or falsely verify false letters of recommendation for citizens of Afghanistan who applied to the U.S. Department of State for Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). There is a limited supply of SIVs each year for Afghan nationals employed as translators for U.S. military personnel. Pittmann is alleged to have signed over 20 false letters in which he represented, among other things, that he had supervised the applicants while they worked as translators in support of the U.S. Army and NATO; that the applicants’ lives were in jeopardy because the Taliban considered them to be traitors; and that he did not think the applicants posed a threat to the national security of the United States. In exchange, Pittmann is alleged to have received thousands of dollars in bribes.
Pittmann made his initial appearance today. He is charged with accepting bribes and conspiring to commit visa fraud. If convicted of both counts, he faces up to 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney John J. Farley for the District of New Hampshire; Inspector General John F. Sopko of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR); Special Agent in Charge Eric Maddox of the Economic Crimes Field Office of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS); and Special Agent in Charge Stanley A. Newell of the Transnational Operations Field Office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) made the announcement.
SIGAR, NCIS, and DCIS are investigating the case.
Trial Attorney Matt Kahn of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Dronzek for the District of New Hampshire are prosecuting the case.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.