A high-ranking member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) pleaded guilty for his role in a scheme to use money funded by the Azerbaijani government to sponsor a trip for members of U.S. Congress, the U.S. Justice Department said Monday.
Kemal Öksüz, who changed his name to Kevin when he received American citizenship, pleaded guilty to one charge of concealing information to the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics.
He was part of a scheme that took members of Congress on what was said to be a privately funded trip to Azerbaijan in 2013, when in reality the money was coming from the government of Azerbaijan.
"Öksüz admitted to, in truth, orchestrating a scheme to funnel money to fund the trip from the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic [SOCAR], the wholly state-owned national oil and gas company of Azerbaijan, and then concealed the true source of funding, which violated House travel regulations," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Öksüz was previously detained in Armenia in August and extradited to the U.S. pursuant to a warrant regarding committing fraud to Congress.
He served as the president of the Houston-based Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (TCAE), an umbrella organization for FETÖ's many nonprofits in the U.S.
He will be sentenced Feb. 11 in Washington. The investigation was conducted by the FBI.
As a common practice to promote their political agenda and business interests, which mainly exploits the U.S. charter school system with dozens of schools, FETÖ members often organized paid-for trips to Turkey and its surrounding region for U.S. senators, congress members, state officials and local officials, in addition to dinners, award events and panels.
Öksüz was also the owner of a company that served as a major vendor for Harmony Public Schools in Texas, which is the largest school network in the U.S linked to FETÖ. His company signed more than $50 million in contracts in a year, making Öksüz a millionaire in the process.
He is being sought by Turkey on FETÖ membership charges due to two separate court orders issued in 2016 and 2017 and is banned from traveling abroad.