Great Falls Man Sentenced for Theft from Malmstrom
GREAT FALLS – John Edmonston, 54, of Great Falls, was sentenced yesterday for conspiracy to defraud the United States. Edmonston, a civilian, and at least three other individuals (all enlisted in the United States Air Force) were part of a scheme to take equipment and tools from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. They would either purchase items directly for themselves or they would take items previously purchased. Edmonston was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay restitution of $5,523.65 to Malmstrom Air Force Base. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris presided over the sentencing.
In documents filed with the Court, the United States Attorney’s Office outlined the proof against Edmonston. Edmonston was the Vehicle Management Flight Chief for the 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron (341 LRS). He is a twenty-year Air Force veteran and served as the chief in this squadron as a civilian. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) had been contacted by a witness who reported seeing improper purchases using Government Purchase Cards (GPC Cards) or taking items previously purchased with United States Air Force funds. Edmonston was an “approving official” for the GPC cards, therefore, items within the 341 LRS were purchased with his approval and knowledge, even if items purchased with GPC Cards were issued to other individuals within the squadron.
The OSI obtained copies of government emails between Edmonston and other individuals sent between August 2014 and January 2015. The emails revealed the extent of Edmonston’s direction and involvement. For example, Edmonston directed subordinates to purchase improper items with GPCs. In one email, Edmonston instructed a subordinate, in reference to an incoming purchase, this is “[s]tuff to stash in back once it rolls in” and the “[l]east amount of people seeing the better.” In a later email, Edmonston acknowledged mistakenly having the improperly purchased items delivered to the 341 LRS.
Law enforcement conducted a search of Edmonston’s residence in June 2015. Law enforcement seized items previously purchased with United States Air Force funds. A subsequent search of a co-conspirator’s residence also led to the discovery of improperly purchased items.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and Air Force Office of Special Investigations and prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.