Eight individuals, including six Fort Campbell soldiers, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Nashville, Tenn. yesterday and charged in connection with a conspiracy to steal sensitive U.S. Army equipment which was ultimately sold and shipped to anonymous eBay bidders, including some located in foreign nations.
Federal law enforcement agents began arresting those charged early this morning. Five are currently in custody and two others are expected to surrender later.
This announcement was made by U.S. Attorney David Rivera at a mid-morning press conference in Nashville. Rivera was joined by Robert Hammer, Resident Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Tracey D. Montan᷉o, Special Agent in Charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) in Nashville.
“The actions of the soldiers charged today should in no way stain the honor of the brave men and women who proudly serve in our country’s armed forces and selflessly give everything to protect America’s freedom,” said U.S. Attorney David Rivera. “To the contrary, we never want to allow the illegal and self-serving actions of a few to cast a shadow on the thousands of military heroes who every day place themselves in harm’s way to protect this great nation. Today we seek both to hold accountable all those who seek to financially profit from the illegal sale of stolen, sensitive and restricted military equipment as well as to thank the U.S. military personnel around the world whose dedication and service safeguards us all.”
Those charged in the indictment are:
- John Roberts, 26, of Clarksville, Tenn;
- Cory Wilson, aka Jason Cory Wilson, 42, of Clarksville;
- U.S. Army Sergeant Michael Barlow, 29, of Clarksville;
- U.S. Army Sergeant Jonathan Wolford, 28, of Clarksville;
- U.S. Army Specialist Kyle Heade, 29, of Fort Campbell, Kentucky;
- U.S. Army Specialist Alexander Hollibaugh, 25, of Fort Campbell;
- U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Nelson, 22, of Fort Campbell; and
- U.S. Army Specialist Aaron Warner, 24, of Fort Campbell.
According to the indictment, the soldiers charged stole more than $1 million worth of sensitive military equipment from the U.S. Army installation at Fort Campbell and sold it to others, including Roberts and Wilson, who then re-sold the equipment on eBay. The items sold included sniper telescopes and rifle accessories, machine gun parts and accessories, grenade launcher sights, flight helmets, communication headsets, body armor and medical supplies. Many of these items were advertised as “Army Special Forces” and U.S. Government Issued (“USGI”).
The indictment also alleges that Roberts and Wilson illegally sold certain restricted U.S. Army equipment, including night vision helmet mounts, to eBay customers located in foreign nations including Russia, China, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Moldova, Malaysia, Romania, and Mexico. The indictment also alleges that Wilson sold flight helmet mounts, advertised as USGI, to buyers in Russia, China, and Kazakhstan and Roberts sold advanced communications headset helmets to buyers in Russia and China.
The indictment charges each defendant with conspiring to steal or receive U.S. Army property and to sell or convey U.S. Army property without authority. In addition, Roberts was charged with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act, and Wilson was charged with 7 counts of wire fraud, one count of money laundering, and one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act. Barlow was also charged with three counts of selling or conveying U.S. Army property without authority.
"As reflected by our name, HSI considers the national security interests of our nation among our top priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer, of HSI New Orleans. “It's especially disturbing when we identify corrupted members of our military who undermine the welfare of this this country, so we, along with our law enforcement partners, shall continue to aggressively investigate this type of criminal activity." Parmer is the Special Agent in Charge of the New Orleans field office with responsibility for Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
“The security of our nation is also a top priority for IRS Criminal Investigation,” stated Tracey D. Montaño, Special Agent in Charge, IRS-Criminal Investigation. “Those who compromise the safety of the American public and our military personnel in the interest of greed will be held accountable for their actions. IRS-CI remains committed to its partnership with other law enforcement agencies to investigate these types of egregious acts”. Montaño is the Special Agent in Charge of the Nashville Field Office with responsibility for Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas.
Each defendant faces 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 and Wilson faces up to an additional 20 years on the money laundering charge. In addition, Barlow faces up to 10 years in prison on each conveying charge. The defendants also face forfeiture of the proceeds of their crimes. Any sentences would be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and applicable federal statutes.
An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case was investigated by HSI, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the IRS-CI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Abely and Thomas J. Jaworski.