A former Air Force master sergeant pleaded guilty to stealing firearm attachments, ammunition, and even a classified documents during and after his tenure in the military, according to the United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina.
A 47-year-old from Spring Lake, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to felony theft of government property and unlawful possession of an unregistered weapon.
During the plea hearing, the former master sergeant used his position to take multiple weapon attachments, weapon parts, classified document(s), ammunition, and other equipment that was originally intended for his unit that he instead kept for himself.
Even after leaving the Air Force, he became a civil service employee for the U.S. Army and continued his theft — sometimes unsuccessfully and other times successfully obtaining equipment from arms dealers and manufacturers meant for the military but which equipment instead became part of the man's collection.
Among the items seized were two SureFire firearm suppressors, a barrel for a Daniel Defense internally suppressed rifle, eight upper assemblies for Geissele Automatics brand rifles, two suppressor alignment rods, two suspected rocket launcher tubes, and approximately 6,000 rounds of unopened ammunition.
In addition to all the weaponry, a 31-page classified document was also seized, a U.S. Army Special Operations Command document that was illegally possessed by the guilty party.
“Our American military is the best-equipped fighting force the world has ever seen, and our military leaders should be good stewards of that equipment, not abuse their positions for personal gain,” said U.S. attorney Michael Easley.
“We won’t allow dangerous weaponry that is provided for military use to be stolen without consequences. Today’s guilty plea is just one example of our partnership with the Air Force and ATF to ensure those consequences are meted out," Easley added.
The charges each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, with the theft charge also bringing a potential fine of $250,000, along with an additional maximum fine of $10,000 for the unlawful firearm possession.
“This defendant took advantage of his position, creating a potential threat to public safety,” said Bennie Mims, special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
“There’s a proper procedure for acquiring firearms and related devices. Ignoring that process could lead to firearms ending up in the hands of prohibited and dangerous individuals," the agent added.
The case is being jointly investigated by the ATF and Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
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