U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant from South Carolina Pleads Guilty for Role in Scheme to Steal Military Equipment in Iraq
WASHINGTON – A U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) gunnery sergeant pleaded guilty today to conspiring to steal more than 70 electrical generators from two USMC bases in Iraq in 2008, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles for the District of South Carolina.
Eric Scott Hamilton, 40, of Pelzer, S.C., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs in the District of South Carolina to a criminal information charging him with two counts of conspiracy to steal public property.
According to court documents, Hamilton was stationed from May to September 2008 at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, where he was in charge of a military storage yard containing electrical generators and other equipment for use by USMC units in Iraq. Hamilton admitted that while he was stationed at Camp Fallujah, he entered into a scheme with a USMC officer to facilitate the theft of electrical generators from the base by private Iraqi contractors. Hamilton admitted that he identified the generators to be stolen, painted markings on them to designate them for theft by Iraqi contractors, and facilitated access to the storage yard by the contractors’ trucks to load and remove the generators. Hamilton also entered into a separate scheme with a private Iraqi contractor to facilitate that contractor’s theft of electrical generators from the base. Both of these theft schemes continued after the USMC closed Camp Fallujah in approximately October 2008 and relocated personnel there to Camp Ramadi, Iraq. According to court documents, Hamilton was assigned at Camp Ramadi from October to December 2008.
In pleading guilty, Hamilton admitted that he received more than $124,000 in payments from the USMC officer and the Iraqi contractor in return for facilitating the theft of more than 70 generators from Camps Fallujah and Ramadi. Hamilton received the funds through cash payments in Iraq, checks issued to Hamilton’s wife in the United States by the USMC officer’s wife, and wire transfer payments to a bank account in the United States. Hamilton sent home approximately $43,000 of the cash he received from the thefts at Camp Fallujah by concealing it among American flags contained in foot lockers that he mailed from Iraq to his wife. The investigation into this case continues.
At sentencing, Hamilton faces maximum penalties of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release following a prison term. As part of his guilty plea, Hamilton has agreed to pay $124,944 in restitution to the United States. A sentencing date has not yet been set by the court.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Trial Attorney David H. Laufman of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), and by Assistant U.S. Attorney William C. Lucius from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. The case is being investigated by SIGIR and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.