Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing Navy Fighter Parts
(Norfolk, Va) - Matthew Sutton, 44, of Mineral Wells, Texas, pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of stealing government property. Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia made the announcement. United States District Judge Robert G. Doumar accepted the plea and has scheduled Sutton’s sentencing for April 12, 2010.
According to court documents, Sutton, a former U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, was working onboard the Naval Air Station Oceana to demilitarize and destroy U.S. Navy owned F-14 fighter aircraft that had been retired from service. During an investigation into the theft of F-14 fighter aircraft parts, agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) interviewed Sutton regarding his role in the thefts of these parts. During this interview, Sutton admitted to stealing a variety of F-14 parts, including a Martin-Baker Ejection seat, a set of F-14 rudder pedals, a magnetic compass, two F-14 cockpit clocks, a F-14 control stick, a F-14 ejection handle, a tailhook, a F-14 upper block oxygen line, two ejection line assembly straps, two ejection gun mount bolts, a 20mm dummy round, and a 20mm cannon barrel. Sutton gave the agents permission to search and recover these parts from his home in Texas. Sutton justified the thefts by telling the NCIS agents that if Admirals are allowed to take parts when they retired, then he should also be allowed to take parts. Sutton retired from the Navy in May 2006. The court records indicate that the ejection seat alone was valued in excess of $150,000.
The case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Assistant United States Attorney Joseph L. Kosky prosecuted the case for the United States.A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.uspci.uscourts.gov.