A retired U.S. Army colonel pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal ethics violations and other matters related to his role in procuring and modifying Russian Mi-17 helicopters for the Afghan Army during his time on active duty. Charges against Norbert Vergez included failing to disclose receiving a check for $30,000 for "relocation expenses" related to his immediate post-service employment and not disclosing the gift of a $4,000 Rolex watch to his wife from the wife of Lithuanian executive involved in the Russian helicopter deal. Vergez went to work for Patriarch Partners, parent company of MD Helicopters, three months after his December 2012 retirement.
Patriarch and MD were not charged in the investigation and Vergez is no longer employed by the company. Vergez's last assignment with the Army was managing an office responsible for acquiring "non-standard" rotorcraft for deployment abroad from suppliers that included Russian Helicopters and MD. Vergez's post-service employment with MD came to light after two former executives there filed a federal whistleblower lawsuit. In their complaint, the executives cited the "level of Col. Vergez's subservience to [MD CEO Lynn] Tilton and his continuing involvement in MD's Army contracts" after accepting a job offer from the company.