Army Soldier and Civilian Sentenced on Bribery Charges for Facilitating Thefts of Fuel in Afghanistan
|U.S. Department of Justice October 29, 2013|
WASHINGTON—A former U.S. Army sergeant and a co-conspirator have been sentenced in the District of Colorado for their roles in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, Afghanistan, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced.
U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Weaver, 30, of Fort Carson, Colorado, was sentenced on October 28, 2013, to serve 37 months in prison. Weaver pleaded guilty October 20, 2012, and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Marcia S. Krieger.
Jonathan Hightower, 31, of Houston, Texas, who worked at FOB Fenty as a civilian employee of a contractor and who had conspired with Weaver, was also sentenced on October 28, 2013, to serve 27 months in prison. He pleaded guilty August 3, 2012, and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez.
A third conspirator, former soldier Stephanie Charboneau, pleaded guilty on September 5, 2013, before U.S. District Court Judge Philip A. Brimmer. Her sentencing is set for December 9, 2013.
Weaver and Hightower were also ordered to pay $1,225,000 in restitution, jointly with Charboneau. Hightower was also ordered to pay $400,000 in restitution for a related fuel theft scheme that was the subject of the prosecution.
According to court documents, from in or about January 2010 through June 2010, Weaver, Hightower, and Charboneau were involved in handling the uploading and transportation of fuel from FOB Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, to nearby military bases. Weaver and Charboneau created false and fraudulent documents purporting to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required. Hightower was a civilian who worked at the base’s “fuel point” uploading fuel trucks, occasionally filling the trucks with fuel to be stolen, and taking other steps to assist the conspiracy. At the direction of Weaver and Charboneau, fuel truck drivers used the fraudulent documents to justify the filled trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty. In truth, after the filled fuel truck left the base, the fuel was simply stolen, and Weaver and Charboneau would receive cash from the representative of the trucking company that supplied the fuel trucks. The cash would be split among the three conspirators.
All three conspirators pleaded guilty to receiving payments from a representative of the trucking company in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 70 5,000-gallon truckloads of fuel. Each of the three acknowledged that the loss to the United States was in excess of $1 million.
The cases were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division (CID); the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and the FBI.
These cases were handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, who is on detail from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).