Crime & Courts

Former Alaskan airman sentenced to 30 months in prison on federal bribery charges

A former U.S. Air Force member stationed in Anchorage was sentenced this week to serve 2 1/2 years in federal prison for illegally accepting bribes from a private contractor for military construction projects.

In 2019, Brian Nash, 33, “received multiple bribe payments from a corrupt federal contractor, who was able to win millions in government contracts based on the confidential information Nash provided,” according to charging documents filed in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Nash was an enlisted contract specialist assigned to the 673rd Contract Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at the time, according to a federal grand jury indictment. He agreed to accept about $460,000 in payments from Ryan Dalbec and his wife Raihana Nadem, owners of North Dakota-based construction company Best Choice Construction LLC, the indictment said.

Military bids are open to competitive bidding, and awarded to the lowest qualified bidder.

From March to November of 2019, Dalbec’s company won numerous bids at both JBER and Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks totaling more than $8 million “using the information Nash provided,” the indictment said.

His actions “involved a serious breach of the public trust,” U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker of the District of Alaska and Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Tansey said in a statement.

Nash was the sole provider for his family, and viewed the bribe as a way to help his family and reduce government spending, according to his attorney, Gretchen L. Staft, federal public defender for the District of Alaska.

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“Though he knew his actions were wrong, he did not grasp the severity of his actions. Rather, he justified his conduct in his mind because he could not only help pay some of his family’s bills, but also save the government a significant amount of money by paying less for the completion of construction projects,” Staft wrote in a statement.

In May, Nash pleaded guilty to conspiracy and acceptance of bribes by a public official.

Dalbec and Nadem also pleaded guilty to felonies related to this conduct and are scheduled for sentencing at the end of 2022.

This week, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ralph R. Beistline sentenced Nash to serve 30 months at a federal prison and two years of supervision once released, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Alaska district.

Annie Berman

Annie Berman covers health care for the Anchorage Daily News. She's a fellow with Report for America, and is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. A veteran of AmeriCorps and Vista volunteer programs, she's previously reported for Mission Local and KQED in the Bay Area.

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