News and Press Releases

Brother of FAA Employee Profited from Scheme to Steal Boats, Plane, Cars and Electronics

February 26, 2010

BRADLEY A. GARNER, 51, a Canadian citizen who resides in Palm Desert, California, was sentenced late yesterday to 54 months in prison and three years of supervised release for Wire Fraud and Theft of Honest Services, Mail Fraud, and Unlawful Monetary Transaction. The sentencing hearing was in front of U.S. District Judge Benjamin Settle at the federal courthouse in Tacoma, Washington. GARNER was convicted following a three week trial in June 2009, of public corruption charges involving a scheme to misappropriate expensive federal property such as boats, planes, vehicles and computers. GARNER’s co-conspirator, his half-brother Steven B. Smith, a former employee of the Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled for trial later this year.

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, Steven Smith misused a government computer to place holds on items meant for transfer to other federal agencies. Smith would place a claim on the property as a representative of the FAA. However, Smith was not authorized to place any holds for the FAA. GARNER then traveled the country picking up claimed goods worth thousands of dollars. Some of the items claimed include two 27' Boston Whaler boats, a Cessna airplane, a 50 foot yacht used in the Bahamas by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and a sailing yawl that had been used by the Naval ROTC program at the University of Washington. Although the scheme was international in scope, the counts of conviction relate to specific things GARNER did in Western Washington as he claimed the various items. For example, the Mail Fraud conviction relates to an insurance claim GARNER filed on the Cessna airplane falsely indicating he had purchased the plane for one dollar. Prosecutors pointed out that GARNER, who ran a limousine service, never obtained title showing the items were legally purchased and never registered the cars, boats or plane with licensing authorities. GARNER stored the items at his home or airport hangar. Some of the items, such as the sailboat claimed from the Navy ROTC, were smuggled to Canada.

GARNER and Smith were first arrested in Southern California in November 2008. They were indicted by the grand jury in February 2009.

Prosecutors asked for a 15 year prison sentence noting GARNER’s leadership of the scheme, and the harm to the community. “Bit by bit, piece by piece, the evidence showed that GARNER was a manager, financier, and driving force behind the scheme. By the end of trial, the facts proved that GARNER’s expertise, leadership, and resources caused the scheme to grow in breadth and boldness. The brothers went from stealing tools from nearby federal facilities to elaborate stratagems that targeted airplanes and yachts.... (They) deprived deserving agencies from state and local law enforcement, fire departments, job corps, and others of the use of this property, where it would have served the community’s interests, not the schemers’ interests,” prosecutors wrote in their sentencing memo.

The case was investigated by the General Services Administration Office of the Inspector General (GSA-OIG), the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG), Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), Army Criminal Investigation Division (Army CID) Defense Criminal Investigation Service (DCIS) and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys David Reese Jennings and Brian Werner.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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