Arrest of Luis Ramon Casellas, Army Reserve Staff Sergeant, Indicted for Bulk Cash Smuggling, Smuggling of Stolen Military Equipment, and Wrongfully Obtaining Overseas Housing Allowance Payments
Special Agent in Charge Carlos Cases of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) San Juan Division, announced the arrest of Luis Ramon Casellas conducted on December 4, 2014.
Army Reservist Staff Sergeant Luis Ramon Casellas, based at Fort Buchanan in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Puerto Rico for illegally smuggling from Afghanistan into the U.S. $113,750 in cash and approximately $6,300 in stolen military equipment and wrongfully obtaining from the government almost $97,000 in Overseas Housing Allowance payments.
According to the indictment, in April 2013, Casellas was deployed to Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. As part of his duties, Casellas was responsible for helping to break down smaller bases in preparation for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. These duties included retrieving U.S. government property for future use and selling the rest for scrap to Afghan contractors. In the summer of 2013, Casellas was the leader of a three-man team that went to a Forward Operating Base to help break down that base. While this team was at the base, Casellas wrongfully took for his own use tools and equipment, including laptops and radios, belonging to the Department of Defense. Casellas sent some of this equipment to Puerto Rico. He also gave one of the team members some of the government property and told him that he could mail it home to Puerto Rico. Further, the indictment charges that Casellas mailed $113,750 in cash and fraudulently did not declare the value of the packages.
Finally, according to the indictment, from February 2010 forward, Casellas wrongfully received from the U.S. Department of Defense Overseas Housing Allowance bi-monthly payments to pay for his rent in Puerto Rico, when in fact he was not paying rent. Casellas fraudulently obtained approximately $97,000 in these payments.
The case is being investigated jointly by agents from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the Expeditionary Fraud Resident Agency, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Command; and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, with assistance from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. The case is being prosecuted by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico.
The public is reminded that a criminal complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. The U.S. government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.