WASHINGTON – A former member of the U.S. armed services was sentenced today to 28 months in prison for his role in a widespread bribery and extortion conspiracy that operated from January 2002 through March 2004, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
Rommel I. Schroer, 33, a former sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, was also ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and to serve three years of supervised release. Schroer was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in Tucson by Judge Cynthia K. Jorgenson.
The charges arose from Operation Lively Green, an undercover FBI investigation that began in December 2001. Fifty-six additional defendants have been sentenced for their roles in the conspiracy.
Schroer pleaded guilty on Feb. 10, 2009, to one count of conspiring to enrich himself by obtaining cash bribes from persons he believed to be narcotics traffickers in return for his assistance, protection and participation in the activities of what he believed to be an illegal narcotics trafficking organization that distributed cocaine from Arizona to other locations in the southwestern United States. In reality, the narcotics traffickers were undercover FBI agents. According to court documents, in order to protect the shipments of cocaine, Schroer and his co-conspirators wore official uniforms, carried official forms of identification, and used official vehicles, when necessary, to prevent police stops, searches and seizures of the narcotics as they drove the cocaine shipments through checkpoints manned by the U.S. Border Patrol, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Nevada law enforcement officers.
These cases are part of a joint investigation being conducted by the Southern Arizona Corruption Task Force, which is comprised of the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security and the Tucson Police Department. The Arizona Air National Guard, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation are also participating in the investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Michael Ferrara and Peter Koski of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, headed by Chief William M. Welch II. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Oklahoma has also secured the guilty pleas of 14 defendants in a related investigation, Operation Tarnish Star.