Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Charged in Afghanistan Fuel Theft Scheme

WASHINGTON—A former United States Army staff sergeant was charged today with bribery, theft of government property, and conspiracy in connection with a fuel theft scheme to solicit approximately $400,000 in bribes from a government contractor in Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A Breuer of the Criminal Division and United States Attorney Neil H MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia. Stevan Nathan Ringo, 26, of Marrero, La ., was charged today in a three-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, with one count of bribery as a public official, one count of theft of government property, and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and theft of government property. Ringo was originally arrested on June 25, 2010, based on a criminal complaint charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit theft of government property. According to the indictment, Ringo was stationed at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank, a United States Army installation in the Logar Province of Eastern Afghanistan.

FOB Shank supports United States military operations in Afghanistan in various ways, including through fuel receipt and redistribution. More specifically, the Army stores large quantities of fuel at FOB Shank and redistributes that fuel to installations in the surrounding area through government contractors. Ringo’s responsibilities at FOB Shank included supervision of that fuel redistribution process. The indictment alleges that, between December 2009 and February 2010, Ringo solicited and accepted approximately $400,000 in cash payments from a government contractor in exchange for his creation and submission of fraudulent paperwork permitting that contractor to steal fuel from FOB Shank.

The indictment alleges that the total value of the fuel stolen during the course of the scheme was approximately $1.4 million. The bribery count carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000; three times the value of the payments made or solicited; or twice the value gained or lost from the scheme. The theft of government property count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost, while the conspiracy count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Ryan S Faulconer of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant United States Attorney Edmund P Power for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Substantial assistance was provided by Trial Attorney Dan E Stigall of the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the United States Army Criminal Investigative Division, other military law enforcement at FOB Shank, and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force (NPFTF) and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF). The NPFTF, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention, and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate, and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from United States Overseas Contingency Operations worldwide, including in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent.

Published on: 2010-08-26

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