Prosecutors: 4 sentenced in Afghan fuel theft bribery scheme

AP News
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Posted: Sep 30, 2015 4:13 AM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — One current and three former U.S. Army soldiers have been sentenced for their involvement in a bribery scheme in Afghanistan that resulted in the theft of more than $10 million worth of fuel, federal prosecutors announced.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday that each of the four men was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, North Carolina. They each had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery.

Of the four, Jeffery B. Edmondson, 38, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was identified as the senior enlisted member of the unit who supervised his co-conspirators. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, the announcement said.

Among the remaining three, Christopher Ciampa, 33, of Lillington, North Carolina, received the harshest sentence, getting 10 years in prison, prosecutors said. Officials also said Enmanual Lugo, 32, of Ocean Township, New Jersey, was sentenced to four years in prison. Geoffrey Montague, 39, also of Fayetteville, was a senior enlisted member of the unit who reported to Edmondson, and was sentenced to five years in prison, prosecutors said.

In 2011, the four men were serving with the 3rd Special Forces Group Service Detachment deployed to Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. During the deployment, the defendants were responsible for managing requests for fuel and other items in support of military units in Afghanistan paid for by the U.S. government.

The men acknowledged that fake requests for thousands of gallons of fuel were submitted that were neither necessary nor used by military units. They admitted that in return for cash bribes, all of the requests were awarded to the same Afghan trucking company, which used the fake requests to download fuel from depots on Kandahar Air Field and then sold the fuel on the black market.

The defendants admitted to sending some of the money to the U.S. either by wire transfer or hidden in personal items, and transported cash back to the U.S. either on their person or in their luggage, according to prosecutors.

The Justice Department said, in addition, that Edmondson and Ciampa admitted to using the money to buy cars.