updated 2/10/2007 5:10:18 PM ET 2007-02-10T22:10:18

A soldier has pleaded guilty to accepting a $50,000 bribe to influence a foodservice supply contract for military in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, and then trying to smuggle the cash back into the United States from Kuwait.

Chief Warrant Officer Peleti “Pete” Peleti Jr., 39, entered his plea Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Michael M. Mihm, who scheduled sentencing for June 15. Peleti could face a total of 20 years in prison and up to $500,000 in penalties.

Prosecutors said Peleti took the bribe while at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where he was the Army’s theater foodservice adviser for Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is accused of trying to steer a contract for paper products and plastic flatware away from a government contractor in 2005 after receiving the cash bribe from the president of a Kuwaiti company.

The Kuwaiti company did not receive the contract.

Peleti was charged in Illinois because he was serving in the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, which is overseen by an office at Rock Island Arsenal. He is now stationed in Hawaii.

“The United States Army deserved honest services from Mr. Peleti as did the taxpayers who were paying his salary,” U.S. Attorney Rodger A. Heaton said in a statement.

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