Army Soldier Pleads Guilty in Denver to Bribery Charges for Facilitating Thefts of Fuel in Afghanistan
Former U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau pleaded guilty today to bribery charges for her role in the theft of fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Charboneau, 34, of Fountain, Colo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Phillip A. Brimmer in the District of Colorado to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one substantive count of bribery.
According to court documents, from approximately February through May 2010, Charboneau was involved in overseeing the delivery of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases. As part of this process, documents generally described as transportation movement requests (TMRs) were created to authorize the movement of fuel.
Court documents state that Charboneau created fraudulent TMRs that purported to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required. After the trucks were filled with fuel, the fraudulent TMRs were used by the drivers of the fuel trucks at FOB Fenty’s departure checkpoint in order to justify the trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty. In truth, the fuel was simply stolen.
Charboneau pleaded guilty to receiving payments from a representative of the trucking company in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 90 fuel trucks. According to court documents, the loss to the United States as a result of the theft was in excess of $1.5 million.
At sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 12, 2013, Charboneau faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for conspiracy and 15 years in prison for bribery.
Charboneau’s plea is the fourth guilty plea arising from this investigation of fuel thefts at FOB Fenty. On Aug. 3, 2012, Jonathan Hightower, a civilian employee of a military contractor who had conspired with Charboneau, pleaded guilty to similar charges. On Oct.10, 2012, Christopher Weaver, who also conspired with Charboneau, pleaded guilty to fuel theft charges. Both Weaver and Hightower pleaded guilty in the District Court of Colorado. On Aug. 29, 2013, Sergeant Bilal Kevin Abduallah, who succeeded Charboneau at FOB Fenty, pleaded guilty in the Western District of Kentucky to fuel theft related charges.
This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and FBI. This case is being prosecuted by Fraud Section Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.