- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 1, 2015

Four current and former members of the U.S. Army have been sentenced to prison for their part in a scheme that duped the military out of over $10 million by stealing gasoline and selling it on the black market.

U.S. District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle ruled this week that the four men will spend an average of more than six years in prison apiece as a result of the scam they operated while on assignment in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The four men acknowledged in a guilty plea to having submitted phony order forms for thousands of gallons of gasoline while assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group Service Detachment, an Army unit that oversaw requests for fuel and other items.

In exchange for cash bribes, the individuals admitted to awarding all of the falsified requests to the same Afghan trucking company that then sold the fuel on the black market.

According to government investigators, the soldiers funneled the illicit funds back to the U.S. through wire transfers and at times smuggled the money home hidden within military gear and other personal items.

The scheme was started in 2011 and landed each defendant one count of conspiracy to commit offense against the United States and one count of bribery, according to the Justice Department.

The supposed ringleader of the operation, Jeffery B. Edmondson, 38, was labeled by investigators as the senior-most enlisted member of the unit and was sentenced Tuesday to eight years in prison. The harshest sentence was handed down to his co-conspirator, Christopher Ciampa, 32, who was ordered to spend a decade behind bars. Enmanual Lugo, 32, and Geoffrey Montague, 39, received four- and five-year sentences, respectively.

Edmondson and Ciampa told prosecutors that they used their portions of the proceeds to purchase automobiles, according to a post-sentencing announcement published by the government.

“These men were trusted to provide their fellow soldiers with the resources needed to successfully complete our mission in Afghanistan. Instead, they chose to personally profit from selling stolen fuel valued at millions of dollars,” said John Strong, an FBI agent who investigated the case. “These federal sentences should reassure the public that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate the theft of government resources intended to protect our servicemen and women overseas.”

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