MANDEVILLE- Slidell resident Mark McCabe said in December, "It's great. I love the United States!"
At the time, McCabe had just returned from an ordeal in South Sudan that left him beaten, jailed and facing severe health issues for months while he was accused of kidnapping in the African country. That was just the beginning of McCabe’s legal troubles. Three days later, he was arrested by the U.S. government for a kickback scheme and mail fraud, stemming from contracting work on a U.S. military job in Afghanistan in 2009. Then, he and his wife, who worked with U.S. Senator David Vitter to have McCabe freed from South Sudan, told Eyewitness News the money involved was not a kickback scheme, but six months of pay he was owed. However, on Thursday, McCabe signed a plea deal, admitting he was guilty and agreeing to pay $60,000; the amount the government says he got from a subcontractor in return for a piece of the job.
None of the parties involved would talk to Eyewitness News for this story, so we asked legal analyst Beth Alston for her take on the case.
"There's been a lot of problems with government contractors, in Baghdad and now it looks like Afghanistan, getting kickbacks," she said.
As for pleading guilty, Alston says it’s a good move.
"They've agreed on sentencing guidelines and they gave him a 2-point reduction in his guidance status so that's definitely going to help him," she said.
However, Alston says jail time is likely.
McCabe is scheduled for sentencing in August. He faces up to five years in prison, but the plea agreement outlines a possible reduced penalty of about a year in prison.