Former State Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Take and Sell Government Vehicles
Defendant Admits Providing Vehicles to Business Owner, Who Sold Them and Shared in the Proceeds
WASHINGTON – A former U.S. Department of State employee pled guilty today to conspiring with others to sell vehicles belonging to the government, without authorization, for their own personal profit, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu, Steve A. Linick, Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Ricky J. Motley, 59, of Thurmont, Md., pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to a charge of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and wire fraud. The charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison and potential financial penalties. Under federal sentencing guidelines, he faces a potential range of 18 to 24 months of incarceration and a fine of $4,000 to $40,000. The plea agreement calls for Motley to pay $416,020 in restitution and an additional amount of $53,000 in a forfeiture money judgment. The Honorable Amit P. Mehta scheduled sentencing for Feb. 22, 2018.
A second defendant, James Ratcliffe, 68, of Fairfax Station, Va., pled guilty to the same charge in January 2017 and is awaiting sentencing. As part of his plea, Ratcliffe has agreed to pay $416,020 in restitution and an identical amount in a forfeiture money judgment.
According to a statement of offense, Motley worked in the State Department’s Defensive Equipment and Armored Vehicle Division. He was responsible for the acquisition, repair and maintenance of armored vehicles and also handled related record-keeping duties.
Ratcliffe is the manager of the Car Collision Center, located in Springfield, Va. He and the owner of the Collision Center, who is identified in court documents as “Person A,” also have a license to sell automobiles in Virginia under the name of Collector’s Auto Restoration.
Through the Car Collision Center, Ratcliffe and others performed legitimate work on vehicles for government agencies, including the U.S. Department of State. Vehicles that came to the Collision Center from the State Department were delivered by State Department employees. The Collision Center provided estimates for the work requested, and, if approved, employees of the Collision Center prepared work tickets, performed the work, and billed the State Department.
The criminal charge involves a scheme carried out by Motley, Ratcliffe, and others from 2011 until 2013. According to the statement of offense, on at least two occasions in 2011 and 2012, Motley caused truckloads of State Department tires and wheels to be delivered to the Collision Center. Motley told Ratcliffe that he could sell them and keep the proceeds. Ratcliffe kept the full proceeds of his sales, which amounted to at least $7,500.
Also, beginning in or before June 2011, and continuing through at least November 2013, Motley and Ratcliffe took a Hummer and 12 Chevrolet Suburbans from the State Department motor pool; these vehicles were unarmored. They agreed that Ratcliffe would sell the vehicles and split the proceeds with Motley. Ratcliffe did not tell purchasers of the misappropriated vehicles they in fact belonged to the State Department. If customers or others asked him where he got the vehicles, he would falsely claim that he acquired them at an auction.
The total amount generated through these sales was $408,520. Per Motley’s request, Ratcliffe paid Motley in cash. Cash withdrawal and deposit records show that Motley obtained at least $53,000 in cash from the sales of the stolen vehicles.
Additionally, in 2015, Motley provided Ratcliffe with two unarmored Suburbans that Ratcliffe kept at his place of business or home. The base price of these vehicles was $48,200 each, for a total of $96,400. The two vehicles were recovered during a law enforcement investigation of the criminal activities.
All told, the value of the property misappropriated through the schemes was at least $512,420.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Liu, Inspector General Linick, and Assistant Director in Charge Vale commended the work of those who investigated the case from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Inspector General, as well as the FBI’s Washington Field Office. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea L. Hertzfeld, former Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Marina Stevenson, and Paralegal Specialists Aisha Keys and Jessica Mundi. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Marston, who is prosecuting the matter.