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A Local Teacher is Now Tied to the Largest Iraq Reconstruction Scandal Yet

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I could find nothing about this in this morning's Dallas Morning News, but the San Antonio Express-News notes yesterday's arrest in Dallas of former schoolteacher Carolyn Blake. The U.S. government alleges that Blake, along with her brother and sister-in-law, are involved in "the largest Army contract-rigging and bribery case to emerge from the Iraq reconstruction effort."

Blake pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Dallas federal court yesterday; she'll stay in the county jail till at least Monday, when she has her bail hearing. Should be an interesting day in court: The government alleges that Blake laundered money and conspired to accept $3.1 million in bribes from contractors. Her brother is Maj. John L. Cockerham, a contracting and procurement officer assigned to Fort Sam Houston who was arrested on Monday; he's accused of accepting $9.6 million in kickbacks. Reports the San Antonio paper:

John Cockerham brokered deals with handpicked contractors in Kuwait in exchange for kickbacks that the women helped pick up and launder. Melissa Cockerham, for instance, is accused of accepting bags or briefcases stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs for her husband from contractors in Kuwait.

The Express-News also notes that Blake's Sunnyvale home was searched by the feds yesterday. She worked for a company in Kuwait. Alas, John Cockerham says this is all a government conspiracy: "We're suffering injustice in the name of justice," he said while being escorted back to his jail cell. --Robert Wilonsky

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