Former Marine Pleads Guilty To Theft Of $880,000 In Military Equipment From Department Of Defense
Defendant Sold Stolen Soldier Gear Online
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York, Vincent P. Vulaj, a resident of Bronx, New York, pleaded guilty to Theft of Government Property. When sentenced on December 16, 2014, Vulaj faces up to 10 years in prison. The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Jeremy Gauthier, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Northeast Field Office, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (“NCIS”).
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, between 2009 and 2013, while working as a Staff Sergeant at the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Reserves Base in Garden City, New York, Vulaj stole property belonging to the Department of Defense worth more than $880,000, and sold it on eBay.com. The stolen items included tactical helmets, goggles, jackets, vests, sleep systems and backpacks. The Marine Corps Reserves discovered the thefts and reported it to NCIS for investigation. NCIS investigators then purchased some of the stolen equipment online and traced the transactions back to Vulaj. In September 2013, Vulaj was discharged to Individual Ready Reserve (“IRR”) status with the Marine Corps Reserve. Individuals placed on IRR status are subject to recall to active military service.
“As a non-commissioned officer with the Marine Corps Reserves, the defendant was charged with safeguarding the welfare of his fellow soldiers and the American public. Instead, he cast aside his duty and shamelessly stole equipment that was meant to provide safety and comfort to our troops in the field in order to line his own pockets,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch thanked the Marine Corps Reserves for their assistance in this investigation.
“Vulaj abused his access and violated the trust placed in him to embezzle from the American people. Not only is there the matter of $800,000 of property he stole and sold, his actions also resulted in the expenditure of a considerable amount of time and effort on his case; resources which should have been put to better use elsewhere, keeping our communities and warfighters safe,” stated Acting Special Agent in Charge Gauthier.
The guilty plea proceeding was held before United States District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Allen Bode.
Name: VINCENT P. VULAJ
Residence: Bronx, NY