Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guardsman stole $13K in border-fence scrap

Air Force Times
March 18, 2010
by Tom Spoth

A federal jury has found a former Air National Guard master sergeant guilty of stealing scrap metal while supervising the construction of a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Robert Kelley, 49, sold 90 tons of ill-gotten steel for $13,055 between July 2007 and March 2008. He then used the money to buy a laptop computer, a printer, a router, Geek Squad home install services, a chop saw, a ratchet set, cowboy boots, a .45-caliber handgun, an AR-15 rifle and a variety of tools, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona.

Kelley was serving with the Wyoming Air National Guard at the time. He was the noncommissioned officer in charge of a team of Air and Army National Guardsmen building the border fence. Kelley told his unit he had the authority to sell scrap from the project, and ordered the Guardsmen to load it in dump trucks, sell it at a metal recycler in Tucson, and give the proceeds to him so he could spend it on unit welfare.

Guardsmen testified at the trial that Kelley ordered them to intentionally create scrap to increase the size of the loads sold in Tucson. Witnesses from the U.S. Border Patrol and the military testified that Kelley had no authority to sell the scrap.

Kelley was convicted of theft of public property, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, a $250,000 fine, or both.

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