Four of eight charged last year as part of a conspiracy to sell gun parts and gear stolen from the Army were sentenced this week in federal court.
The stiffest punishment went to John Roberts, 27, of Clarksville, a civilian involved in the resale of the items, many of which were sold on eBay and shipped overseas. Roberts received 15 years in prison this on Tuesday following his conviction on charges earlier this year that included conspiracy, wire fraud and violating the Arms Export Control Act. The court also ordered Roberts to pay $4.2 million in restitution to the Army for the items.
Roberts was arrested last November as part of a ring that included several active duty U.S. Army enlisted men involved in selling gear removed without authorization from Fort Campbell.
According to court documents, between 2013 and February 2016, the soldiers carried away a varying degree of items from the base without permission, passing them to the two civilians in Clarksville, Tennessee, who resold them. Prosecutors argued Roberts knew the items were stolen and preyed on enlisted men who suffered from a variety of financial problems or serious drug addictions.
The ring moved millions in stolen equipment including full-auto firearm components, sensitive night-vision and communications gear, flight helmets, body armor, medical supplies and even items such as printer cartridges. The two civilian members of the conspiracy allegedly sold the nearly 1,600 items on eBay or to retail outlets, in the process frequently violating export laws on controlled items. Items were shipped overseas to destinations ranging from China and Russia to India and the Netherlands.
Firearm components stolen and sold by members of the conspiracy included sights for M203 grenade launchers, trigger groups for the M240 machine gun — listed for sale eBay for $399 — and a host of parts for the M249 machine gun including magazine adapters, heat shields, buffer tube assemblies, pintle mounts, and barrels. One of the defendants sold 30 stolen M249 barrels to a retail store. Another auction was for an M144 Sniper Spotting Scope.
Also sentenced on Tuesday were three who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges: Aaron Warner, Alexander Hollibaugh, and U.S. Army Specialist Dustin Nelson, who each were given sentences ranging from time served to probation.
The four remaining defendants– Michael Barlow and Jonathan Wolford of Clarksville; Kyle Heade of Fort Campbell; and Cory Wilson of Gonzalez, Louisiana– all of whom have pleaded guilty to a variety of felonies, are scheduled to be sentenced in January.