Contractor's Widow Seeks $25 Million From Iraq - InformationWeek

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7/23/2009
10:21 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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Contractor's Widow Seeks $25 Million From Iraq

It's bad enough her husband was murdered outside Baghdad. Now, the widow of a contractor who provided IT and military hardware services for the reconstruction effort claims the Iraqi government stiffed the man's firm for $25 million.

It's bad enough her husband was murdered outside Baghdad. Now, the widow of a contractor who provided IT and military hardware services for the reconstruction effort claims the Iraqi government stiffed the man's firm for $25 million.Dale Stoffel, by most accounts, was a soldier-of-fortune type who saw Iraq as one big lottery ticket. He traveled to the war-torn country shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein to drum up business for his firm, Pennsylvania-based Wye Oak Technology. For protection, Stoffel routinely carried an automatic weapon slung across his shoulder.

Stoffel thought he'd drawn a winning ticket when, in 2004, the Iraqi Interior Ministry tapped Wye Oak to provide a range of services worth up to $25 million.

Among other things, Wye Oak wrote computer programs that helped track shipments of military equipment through Iraq, created spreadsheets for comparing raw materials prices in world markets, built logistics Web sites, and helped recover and refurbish used weapons systems.

But Stoffel's luck didn't last. In December, 2004, authorities came across a trashed BMW sport-utility vehicle near the Taji military base outside Baghdad. Inside were the bullet-ridden bodies of Stoffel and a business associate.

Pictures of their belongings later turned up on an Islamic extremist Web site. But some suggested that was merely a cover; that the real reason Stoffel was killed was that he'd become an outspoken critic of the graft and corruption that plagues the contracting process in Iraq. Billions of dollars in U.S. aid has been sucked into the darker corridors of various ministries, never to be seen again. Stoffel's laptop computer was among the items stolen from the murder site.

Whatever the motivation for the assassination, Stoffel's widow Barbara is sure of one thing: Wye Oak has never been paid for the work it did in Iraq. Last week, she filed suit against the country's central government in U.S. District Court for Eastern Virginia.

Barbara Stoffel is seeking $25 million on behalf of Wye Oak and Dale Stoffel's estate.

"Despite repeated requests for payment of the invoices following the death of Stoffel, the plaintiff received no payment under the contract," Barbara Stoffel's attorneys state matter-of-factly in their complaint.

The case is ongoing.

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