Former State Employee Pleads Guilty In Scheme Involving Theft Of Dod Surplus Property
RALEIGH - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today ROBERT BRIAN MINISH, 57, of Henderson, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to theft of property belonging to the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, and to making false statements, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.
According to the Criminal Information filed on March 5, 2013, and information provided in open court today, MINISH was an employee of Law Enforcement Support Services (LESS), a division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Among its functions, LESS facilitated the transfer of United States Department of Defense (DoD) surplus property to state and local law enforcement agencies to use in law enforcement activities. Working from the position of Firearms Program Manager, MINISH was responsible for coordinating the transfer of DoD weapons, including firearms, to law enforcement agencies.
In 2009, investigators reviewed LESS records as part of an audit. The audit revealed that MINISH failed to maintain records as required for DoD firearms loaned to law enforcement agencies. Dozens of firearms loaned to North Carolina law enforcement agencies through LESS were presently unaccounted for in LESS records. LESS records also reflected that hundreds of firearms were being improperly stored at LESS headquarters in Raleigh. LESS was not itself a law enforcement agency and was not authorized to possess weapons.
During interviews with investigators, MINISH made numerous false statements regarding the firearms identified by the audit as being unaccounted for. MINISH claimed that no firearms were presently stored at LESS headquarters, nor had firearms ever been stored there. At the time, MINISH was aware that hundreds of firearms, including automatic firearms, were improperly stored at LESS. MINISH was also aware that several of the firearms were in his own personal possession.
MINISH mislead investigators with information attributing some of the firearms to certain North Carolina law enforcement agencies. In the ensuing weeks, investigators traveled throughout the state to these law enforcement agencies in a futile effort to account for the firearms. Some law enforcement agencies reported having previously returned missing firearms to MINISH personally.
On May 12, 2009, MINISH notified investigators that some of the questioned firearms were in fact present at LESS headquarters. MINISH initially claimed that the guns and been returned by several law enforcement agencies days earlier. After investigators determined this to be false, MINISH admitted that the guns had been there for months.
On June 16, 2010, LESS received a United States Postal Service package that was addressed to MINISH and was purportedly mailed by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. The package was opened and found to contain six of the missing firearms identified by the audit. Investigators determined that the package had not been sent by the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, but had instead been mailed from a Post Office in Mebane, NC. MINISH eventually admitted that he had been in possession of the firearms, and that he mailed the package to LESS in an attempt to deceive investigators.
Information was developed that MINISH stole additional DoD property that had been, or was to be, loaned to law enforcement agencies through LESS, including: gun safes; tool bins; spectacle kits/goggles; M49 spotting scopes; encrypted radios; Aimpoint rifle scopes; and gun cleaning kits. EBay records associated with an account maintained by MINISH were obtained for the period between August 2008, and September 2010. The records reflected that MINISH sold stolen DoD property on eBay having an acquisition value in excess of $30,000.
At sentencing set for the Court’s August 5th, 2013, term of Court, MINISH faces up to 15 years imprisonment followed by up to three years supervised release and a fine of up to $500,000.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Department of Defense – Defense Logistics Agency, Office of Inspector General; the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation; the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Toby Lathan prosecuted the case.