Paving the Road to Hell in Liberia With US Aid

April 28, 2011

From 1989 through 2003, Liberia was rocked by civil war, with only brief periods or respite.  From 1989-1996, Liberian President Samuel Doe waged a bloody battle against Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson. That conflict reportedly resulted in the death of over 200,000 Liberians and sent nearly a million citizens into exile.  Widespread rape, murder, and atrocities occurred during this period.  In 1990, Doe was captured, tortured, and executed.

From 1993 until about 1996 an uneasy truce existed among the various factions of a coalition government. In 1997, Charles Taylor was elected President.  By 1999, Liberia had devolved into a second civil war with reported casualties of another 50,000. 

In 2003, the United Nations intervened in the fighting and Taylor resigned.  In 2006, Taylor was arrested and placed on trial at the Hague.

Paving The Road To Hell

In 2005, following years of devastation from the civil wars, the U.S. Agency for International Development ("USAID") awarded a two-year grant for community reconstruction projects in Liberia to World Vision (through Catholic Relief Charities), an international non-profit Christian humanitarian foundation.  Joe O. Bondo, 39, and Morris B. Fahnbulleh, 41, both of Monrovia, Liberia, were assigned to supervise World Vision employees as they assisted Liberian communities with infrastructure projects, including road, latrine and water well construction.   In return for their labor, USAID, through World Vision, was supposed to then distribute food to the residents of these communities.  

However, in 2008, an internal audit conducted by World Vision revealed that up to 91 percent of the food never reached its intended beneficiaries.  The audit revealed that Bondo and Fahnbulleh had sold the food and pocketed the proceeds and then instructed World Vision employees to falsify the documents used to track food distributions.  

Moreover, the two men directed USAID-salaried employees to perform construction work on their personal compounds, instead of building clinics, schools, roads and other vital infrastructure projects which the federal government had funded. As part of their scheme to conceal their illegal activites, Bondo and Fahnbulleh threatened World Vision employees with the loss of their jobs. Also, the two men purchased the silence and cooperation of some subordinates through the payment of "hush money."


In November 2010, Bondo and Fahnbulleh were each convicted by a federal jury in the District of Columbia of

  • one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States,
  • four counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and
  • four false claims counts.  

Additionally, Bondo was convicted of two counts of witness tampering; Fahnbulleh was  convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.    


On April 26, 2011, Bondo and Fahnbulleh were each sentenced today to

  • 142 months in prison;
  • three years of supervised release; and
  • ordered to pay jointly and severally $1.2 million in restitution.

SIDE BAR: Sadly, not only did World Vision expend extensive resources in investigating the fraud and working with authorities, but the charity repaid about $1.9 million to USAID through Catholic Relief Services.  

Liberia and its people were savaged by atrocities committed among the various warlords who pillaged that nation during the past decades.  When the time finally came to heal and rebuild, the nation was again victimized by Bondo and Fahnbulleh.  We barely do justice to the enormity of their crimes by calling it a "criminal prosecution."  It is an indictment of our humanity.