Sergeant First Class Pleads Guilty to Theft of Over $1 Million Worth of Government Property
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 14, 2012|
RALEIGH—United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Robert Alan Walker, 36, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to conspiring to steal property of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and to theft of government property, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 641 and 2.
U.S. Attorney Walker stated, “The theft of sensitive military equipment, such as the lightweight laser designator rangefinder in this case, puts our soldiers at even greater risk than they already are in given the potential for such equipment to fall into the wrong hands. We owe a duty to our troops to protect them from the greed and criminal misconduct of their peers.”
According to the criminal information filed on September 17, 2012, and information presented in open court, Robert Alan Walker was a sergeant first class in the United States Department of the Army assigned to the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, which is part of the 18th Airborne Corps, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. From July 27, 2010 through July 27, 2011, Walker was deployed with 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade to the United States Forward Operating Base-Spin Boldak and then later at Kandahar Air Field, both U.S. military bases located in Afghanistan. During his deployment to Afghanistan, Walker was the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of a security detail known as the Enabler Security Team, which secured movement of staff and service/construction workers throughout the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade’s area of responsibility.
Between December 2010 and July 28, 2011, Walker, along with another unindicted military service member, stole more than $1,000,000 worth of government property, concealed the stolen items in military connexes and then shipped the stolen goods back to the United States through Air Force channels. Some of the items stolen included a lightweight laser designator rangefinder (LLDR) valued at over $290,000; a Polaris ATV valued at $11,507; two plasma cutters valued at $10,000; and one cargo trailer valued at $8,944. An LLDR is used to locate and designate targets for laser-guided munitions.
Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, Southeast Field Office commented, “It is disheartening when a military member abandons his code of conduct and violates a position of trust for personal enrichment. The DCIS will continue to aggressively investigate these offenses to protect the integrity of the Department of Defense, especially those service members who are serving honorably and selflessly in Southwest Asia.”
“Our service men and women make sacrifices for our country every day and it undermines their commitment when a fellow soldier steals property they depend on to stay safe. The FBI and our partners will make sure those who violate that trust are held accountable,” said Chris Briese, Special Agent in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the FBI.
“It is disappointing to see a senior non-commissioned officer abandon the army values and betray fellow soldiers while in a position of trust,” said Special Agent Brandi Little of the Fort Bragg U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Office. “CID, along with DCIS, DLA, and the FBI, works diligently day in and day out to defend these values and maintain integrity in the military. Sergeant First Class Walker’s guilty plea reinforces that these crimes will be aggressively investigated and will not go unpunished,” said Little.
The criminal investigation of this case was conducted by United States Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Department of Army-Criminal Investigation Command; and the Defense Logistics Agency. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan is handling the prosecution on behalf of the Eastern District of North Carolina.