Carroll man accused of illegal Afghan dealings Adam J. Pudenz says the federal investigators' charges are unfounded
By JARED STRONG Times Herald Staff Writer
August 23, 2013
A 33-year-old Carroll man's $40,000-per-month job as a consultant for an Afghanistan company violated federal law because the man had previously managed government contracts with the company while he was a U.S. Air Force captain, federal prosecutors allege.
Adam J. Pudenz is accused of violating conflict on interest laws because he worked for Kabul Milli - a company that provided boots to the Afghan National Security Forces - after his military service ended despite explicit instructions not to, according to a criminal complaint.
He was arrested in Carroll this week and made an initial appearance in federal court in Sioux City on Wednesday. He did not give a plea, was stripped of his passport and released.
Pudenz faces five years in federal prison if convicted of willfully violating federal law. If a judge rules he unwittingly broke the law, the penalty is up to one year in prison.
Pudenz denied that he broke the law in a telephone interview with the Daily Times Herald on Thursday, though he said he could not comment specifically on the case.
"I have absolutely nothing to hide," said Pudenz, who owns and manages Pudenz Popcorn. "I wish I could share the many ways that these are false, but I'm not allowed to right now."
The Breda native and Carroll High grad served 11 years in the Air Force. One of his last jobs was as a contracting officer and program manager who oversaw contracts for equipment and supplies that went to the Afghan military, according to court documents.
Pudenz reportedly managed three contracts in 2010 with Kabul Milli, which he later worked for as a consultant after his military service ended in February 2011, court records show. Pudenz was paid $240,000 up-front for six months of work, in which he represented Kabul Milli as it sought payments from the U.S. military for boots it provided under the contracts.
In November 2011, for example, Pudenz met with military officials to expedite a payment of more than $783,000, according to the documents. The payments were often delayed for up to six months, the owner of Kabul Milli told investigators.
But military officials allegedly warned Pudenz around the time he left the military that he could never work for Kabul Milli, or he would risk criminal prosecution.
Pudenz allegedly acknowledged to investigators that he received the written warning and that "his work for Kabul Milli violated the direction of the letter," according to the criminal complaint.
Pudenz bought a house in Carroll about a month after the $240,000 payment from Kabul Milli. He paid $272,000 for a house at 115 N. Court St. with an apparent down-payment of $150,000, county records show.
Pudenz is also accused of - but not criminally charged for - deceiving military officials in November 2010 about a $1 billion contract to supply clothing and boots to Afghan soldiers, according to court documents.
Pudenz allegedly said that only two companies were capable of fulfilling the contract, one of which was Kabul Milli, even though a senior military contract official who later reviewed the deal said other companies were capable and already providing the products. The contract, however, did not go to Kabul Milli.