NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Slidell businessman recently released from prison in South Sudan has been arrested on charges of receiving more than $73,000 in illegal kickbacks in Afghanistan.
A criminal complaint unsealed Thursday in federal court in New Orleans charges Elton Maurice "Mark" McCabe III with one count of receiving illegal kickbacks and one count of wire fraud. McCabe was released after his arrest.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, McCabe, 53, took cash and a $53,000 wire transfer to his wife's bank account in 2009 from subcontractors in exchange for giving them work while vice president of a construction company. The firm was doing reconstruction work in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar. Also, prosecutors say McCabe took cash and a $20,000 wire transfer to his wife's bank account in 2009 for improperly selling company construction material for his own benefit.
McCabe's wife, Anne McCabe, denied charges against her husband. She said the wired money was back pay owed to McCabe, and the family paid taxes on that income. She said the couple has documented proof that the payments are legitimate, although many records were saved on McCabe's laptop, which was stolen during his imprisonment in South Sudan, she said.
Anne McCabe said the arrest came as a surprise.
"It's unbelievable that this has been happening since 2009 and all of a sudden when he comes back from this ordeal, he's attacked with false accusations," she told WWL-TV.
McCabe returned to Slidell Monday afternoon after U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., began a campaign to get McCabe back home, threatening foreign aid to South Sudan.
McCabe left home for a job in South Sudan over the summer, and was arrested by that east African nation's security service in October for allegedly kidnapping an Indian businessman. South Sudanese authorities dropped the charges in late November, and he was allowed to return home.