3 NC soldiers took bribes in scheme for $10 million in US fuel in Afghanistan, officials say

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — A Federal Judge on Tuesday sentenced current and three former U.S. Army soldiers for their involvement in stealing $10 million worth of gas from a US airfield in Afghanistan.

The scheme involved three soldiers who live in North Carolina – two in Fayetteville and another in Lillington, officials said.

Two of the soldiers used the bribery money to buy cars and trucks, authorities say. One solider hid $180,000 of stolen money inside stereo equipment that he shipped back to North Carolina with his unit’s gear.

Jeffrey Edmonson, age 38, and Geoffrey Montague, 39, both of Fayetteville will serve eight years and five years in prison, respectively.

Christopher Ciampa, age 33, of Lillington will spend 10 years behind bars.

Another man, Enmanual Lugo, 32, of Ocean Township, NJ, was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

The FBI says the men were involved in an elaborate bribery scheme.

In 2011, Edmondson, Montague, Ciampa and Lugo were U.S. Army soldiers serving with the 3rd Special Forces Group Service Detachment deployed to Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan, according to a press release from the US Attorney.

During the deployment, the group was responsible for managing Transportation Movement Requests (TMRs) for fuel and other items in support of military units in Afghanistan paid for by the U.S. government.

In connection with their guilty pleas, the defendants admitted to submitting fake TMRs for thousands of gallons of fuel that were neither necessary nor used by military units, the US Attorney said.

The defendants admitted that, in return for cash bribe payments, they awarded all of the TMRs to the same Afghan trucking company, which used the fake TMRs to download fuel from depots on Kandahar Air Field and then sold the fuel on the black market,  the US Attorney said.

The defendants admitted that they sent some of the illicit proceeds to the U.S. via wire transfer or hidden in personal items, and transported cash back to the U.S. either on their persons or in their luggage, the US Attorney said.

In addition, Edmondson and Ciampa admitted to using the funds to purchase automobiles,  the US Attorney said.

Ciampa hid $180,000 of stolen funds inside stereo equipment that he shipped back to North Carolina with his unit’s gear, officials say.

According to the plea agreements, the scheme caused losses to the U.S. of over $10 million.

The case was investigated by the DCIS, FBI, Army CID and SIGAR. The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Wade Weems of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, on detail from SIGAR, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan of the Eastern.

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