Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Former U.S. Soldier Sentenced On Bribery Charges For Facilitating Thefts Of Fuel In Afghanistan

The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

A former U.S. Army soldier was sentenced to serve 87 months in prison for her role in stealing fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, Afghanistan, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced today.

Former U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau, 35, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was sentenced on Feb. 3, 2014, by U.S. District Court Philip A. Brimmer.   Charboneau pleaded guilty on Sept. 5, 2013.

According to court documents, from approximately February through May 2010, Charboneau was involved in overseeing the delivery of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases.   As part of this process, documents generally described as “transportation movement requests” (TMRs or mission sheets) were created to authorize the movement of fuel.

According to court documents, Charboneau conspired with others to steal and sell fuel.   The essence of the scheme was that the conspirators would create fraudulent TMRs that purported to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, even though no legitimate fuel transportation mission was required.    
After the trucks were filled with fuel, the fraudulent TMRs were used by the drivers of the fuel trucks at FOB Fenty’s departure checkpoint to justify the trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty.   In truth, the fuel was simply stolen, and the conspirators would receive money from the trucking company that stole the fuel.

Charboneau pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery for having received payments from a representative of the trucking company in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 70 truckloads of fuel.  According to court documents, the loss to the United States as a result of the thefts was in excess of $1,225,000.

Charboneau’s plea was the fourth guilty plea arising from the investigation of fuel thefts at FOB Fenty.   On Aug. 3, 2012, Jonathan Hightower, a civilian employee of a military contractor who had conspired with Charboneau, pleaded guilty to similar charges.  After cooperating with the government, he was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison on Oct. 28, 2013.   On Oct.10, 2012, Christopher Weaver, who also conspired with Charboneau, pleaded guilty to fuel theft charges, and, after cooperating with the government, was sentenced to serve 37 months in prison on Oct. 28, 2013.  Both Weaver and Hightower were prosecuted in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.   On Aug. 29, 2013, Sergeant Bilal Kevin Abduallah, who succeeded Charboneau at FOB Fenty, pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky to fuel theft-related charges.   His sentencing is set for Feb. 12, 2014.

The cases were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR); the Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division (CID); the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

These cases were handled by Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, who is on detail from SIGAR.       

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