Former U.S. Army Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Bribery in Afghanistan Fuel Theft Scheme
WASHINGTON - A former U.S. Army Sergeant pleaded guilty today to bribery in connection with a fuel theft scheme to solicit more than $400,000 in bribes from a government contractor in Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.
Michael Dugger, 27, of Jonesboro, Ga., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Court Judge T. S. Ellis, III in the Eastern District of Virginia to a one-count criminal information charging him with bribery as a public official. Dugger was originally charged in a criminal complaint filed on June 24, 2010. The complaint charged him and Stevan Nathan Ringo, a former U.S. Army staff sergeant in Afghanistan, with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property. The charge against Ringo remains pending. The charge in the complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
According to court documents, Ringo and Dugger were stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank, a U.S. Army installation in the Logar Province of Eastern Afghanistan. FOB Shank supports U.S. military operations in Afghanistan in various ways, including through fuel receipt and redistribution. More specifically, the Army stores large quantities of fuel at FOB Shank and redistributes that fuel to installations in the surrounding area through government contractors. Dugger’s responsibilities included supervision of FOB Shank’s fuel redistribution process.
In his guilty plea, Dugger admitted that between January and February 2010 he aided and abetted a co-conspirator’s solicitation and acceptance of more than $400,000 in bribes from a government contractor, all in exchange for his co-conspirator’s creation and submission of fraudulent paperwork permitting that contractor to steal fuel from FOB Shank. Dugger also admitted that he helped his co-conspirator conceal the money in various locations in and around FOB Shank. The total value of the fuel stolen during the course of the scheme was at least $1.39 million.
At sentencing, Dugger faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000; twice the gross gain or loss from the scheme; or three times the value of the payments solicited or received. Dugger’s sentencing is currently scheduled for Nov. 5, 2010, at 9:00 a.m.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ryan S. Faulconer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmund P. Power for the Eastern District of Virginia. Substantial assistance was provided by Trial Attorney Dan E. Stigall of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, other military law enforcement at FOB Shank, and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force (NPFTF) and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).The NPFTF, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate, and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations worldwide, including in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.