FORT MONMOUTH, N.J. -- A Fort Monmouth employee declined an offer of illicit cash and instead played a key role in an operation that led to the arrest of the president and chief executive officer of a defense contracting firm who was charged April 8 with offering the employee a $100,000 bribe.

The employee was not named in a news release from the office of the U.S. Attorney, District of New Jersey, but was identified as a contracting officer.

Thanomsak Hongthong was charged in a criminal complaint by the U.S. Attorney and released Feb. 8 on $200,000 bond. Hongthong's company, VDH Precision Machining located in Bohemia N.Y., was awarded a contract worth $1.7 million to provide spare parts to the Army.

The contract was administered by the CECOM Contracting Center of the Army Contracting Command.

At the end of a meeting here Feb. 5, Hongthong made a statement that the contracting officer took as an offer of a bribe, according to the release. The contracting officer then contacted Fort Monmouth officials, triggering an investigation.

At the direction of law enforcement, the contracting officer met with Hongthong near here on March 17. The news release alleges that during this recorded meeting, Hongthong offered the contracting officer $100,000 if the contracting officer would increase the cost of the contract by $430,000.

In a recorded conversation that took place on March 23, the news release alleges that Hongthong offered the contracting officer $10,000 up front and asked the contracting officer to increase the overall price of the contract by $800,000.

The contracting officer and Hongthong agreed to meet March 27 at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway, where Hongthong agreed to bring the initial $10,000 cash payment. At the appointed time and place, according to the release, Hongthong gave the $10,000 to the contracting officer, while the meeting was recorded by law enforcement.

Hongthong further stated that he wanted to work with the contracting officer on future contracts, and offered the contracting officer an undefined "percentage" on additional future contracts, according to the news release.

Hongthong is charged in the criminal complaint with one count of bribery of a public official. If convicted on this count, Hongthong faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine three times the value of the bribe, or $300,000.

The news release states that the charges and allegations in the criminal complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.