Pine Bluff Couple Sentenced for Theft of Government Property from the National Center for Toxicological Research
|U.S. Attorney’s Office April 24, 2014|
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced today that Lee Anne Branch and Kyle Branch, both 41, of White Hall, Arkansas, appeared before United States District Judge D. P. Marshall, Jr. to be sentenced for theft of government property. Judge Marshall sentenced Lee Anne Branch to 30 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years’ supervised release. Kyle Branch was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by three years’ supervised release. Judge Marshall also ordered the Branches to pay $248,535 to the NCTR.
On November 21, 2013, the Branches waived indictment and pled to an information charging them with one count of theft of government property. When entering their pleas, the Branches admitted that they voluntarily, intentionally, and knowingly stole items of value that belonged to the United States with the intent to deprive the owner of the use or benefit of the items taken. At the time of their pleas, they also agreed to forfeit all interests in all property that was used to commit their theft and any proceeds of their sale of government property, including a 1998 Baja Outlaw Boat with a Mercruiser motor and SPRS trailer. When pronouncing the sentence for the Branches, the judge stated that he took into consideration Kyle’s medical condition, namely, cancer. Judge Marshall recommended that Kyle be placed in a medical facility close to Central Arkansas. Lee Anne was ordered to report to the Bureau of Prisons June 9, 2014, and Kyle was given until September 30, 2014, to report.
The charge was the result of a scheme to steal property that was being transferred from the Pine Bluff Arsenal (PBA) as they were breaking down buildings and equipment associated with the chemical weapons destruction. Lee Anne Branch was employed at the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR). She was in charge of property and the process of obtaining property from other federal agencies. Lee Ann stole the transferred property by personally picking up pallets of items from the PBA in a box truck. The truck would be driven to a private storage unit she rented in White Hall instead of taking them to the NCTR and entering them into the NCTR inventory. Kyle Branch then sold the stolen items from the storage unit through multiple means, including sales on eBay and craigslist.
A third defendant, Travis Love Donald, age 38, of Sherwood, also pled guilty on November 21, 2013, to the theft of government property charged in the information. He is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge D.P. Marshall, Jr. on May 22, 2014.
The United States Attorney acknowledges the valuable assistance of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Army CID, NCTR, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for their dedication to this investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Edward Walker prosecuted this case for the United States.