- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Army sergeant pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges he helped steal more than 1 million gallons of fuel from the U.S. military and sold it on the black market in Afghanistan, a move that potentially could have allowed terrorists to get a hold of the commodity.

Christopher Ciampa, 32, of Lillington, North Carolina, was deployed with the 3rd Special Forces Group Service Detachment and assigned to Camp Brown at Kandahar Air Field between February 2011 and January 2012, according to court documents.

But he and his co-conspirators submitted false reports about the movement of military vehicles to explain the purchase of hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel that they were instead stealing and selling on the black market in neighboring Afghan towns, prosecutors said.

“Sergeant Ciampa took bribes to help steal millions of dollars’ worth of fuel meant to support U.S. military operations in Afghanistan,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. “His greed put his fellow soldiers at greater risk, and his actions stand in stark contrast to the integrity and sacrifice demonstrated every day by the men and women of our Armed Forces.”

The total loss to the U.S. military was more than $10 million, investigators said. Mr. Ciampa and his co-conspirators sent some of their illegally obtained money back to the U.S., including $180,000 Mr. Ciampa hid in a stereo he shipped back home.

Prosecutors said Mr. Ciampa used the money to buy a truck and other personal goods.

“Whether an individual is in or out of uniform, it makes no difference, we will do everything in our investigative power to see those who defraud the Army brought to justice,” warned Frank Robey, director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit.

John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said that “the crimes alleged in this case are serious and describe actions that undermine our mission in Afghanistan.”

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