Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Bribery in Afghanistan Fuel Theft Scheme
WASHINGTON - A former U.S. Army staff 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.
Stevan Nathan Ringo, 26, of Marrero, La., pleaded guilty today before Judge T.S. Ellis, III in U.S. District Court in Virginia to one count of bribery. Ringo was originally charged in an indictment filed on Aug. 24, 2010. Ringo’s sentencing is set for Jan. 7, 2011.
According to court documents, Ringo was 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. Ringo’s responsibilities at FOB Shank included supervision of that fuel redistribution process.
In his guilty plea, Ringo admitted that between December 2009 and February 2010, he accepted more than $400,000 in cash payments from a government contractor in exchange for creating and submitting fraudulent paperwork permitting that contractor to steal fuel from FOB Shank. The total value of the fuel stolen in the course of the scheme was nearly $1.5 million.
At sentencing, Ringo faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000; three times the value of the payments made or solicited; or twice the value gained or lost from the scheme.
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.