John Roberts, 27, of Clarksville, Tenn., was found guilty today by a federal jury of conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property, 10 counts of wire fraud and two counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jack Smith of the Middle District of Tennessee.
The jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts, after a four-day trial in U.S. District Court. Roberts is the final defendant convicted in the conspiracy, after an indictment issued in October 2016 charged six U.S. Army soldiers and two civilian eBay sellers with various crimes.
Visiting U.S. District Judge Roger H. Lawson, Jr., of the Middle District of Georgia, remanded Roberts to the custody of the U.S. Marshal following the verdict.
According to the proof at trial, Roberts conspired with the soldiers, who stole U.S. Army equipment, often after hours, from the U.S. Army installation at Fort Campbell. Roberts then purchased the equipment from the soldiers, often times in dark parking lots and by cash only transactions. Roberts knew that some of the soldiers had financial problems or serious drug addictions. Roberts then resold this military grade equipment via eBay.
The U.S. Army equipment listed for sale on eBay included sniper telescopes and other sniper rifle accessories, parts for the M249 machine gun (including barrel assemblies, trigger groups, rail adapter kits, magazine buttstocks, mounts, and heat shields), sights for the M203 grenade launcher, “red dot” sights for the M2 rifle and M4 assault rifle, flight helmets, communications headsets, and medical supplies. Certain equipment sold on eBay was advertised as “Army Special Forces,” “USGI” (U.S. Government Issued), and “New in Package.”
Further proof at trial established that Roberts illegally exported certain restricted U.S. Army equipment, including night vision helmet mounts and that Roberts sold U.S. Army equipment to eBay customers around the world, including customers in Russia, China, Thailand, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, India, Germany, and Mexico.
Six co-defendant’s have previously pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing:
On December 21, 2016, former U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Nelson, 23 of Northville, New York pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property;
On February 8, 2016, former U.S. Army Specialist Kyle Heade, 30, formerly of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property;
On March 30, 2016, former U.S. Army Sergeant Michael Barlow, 30, of Clarksville, Tenn., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property and theft of government property.
On April 6, 2017, Cory Wilson, 43, of Gonzalez, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property, wire fraud, and violating the Arms Export Control Act.
On April 26, 2017, Jonathan Wolford, 29, of Clarksville, Tenn., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property.
On April 26, 2017, Alexander Hollibaugh, formerly of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and sell U.S. Army property.
Roberts will be scheduled for sentencing later this year. All defendants face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy charge. Roberts and Wilson face up to 20 years for each count of wire fraud and violating the Arms Export Control Act. In addition, Barlow faces up to 10 years in prison on the theft charge. The defendants also face forfeiture of the proceeds of their crimes.
Acting U.S Attorney Jack Smith commended the work of the agents with Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, who investigated this case and Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas J. Jaworski and Courtney L. Coker, who prosecuted the case.