NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Six Fort Campbell soldiers and two civilians have been charged with conspiring to steal sensitive military equipment — including highly classified materials — and selling it online, federal prosecutors said Thursday.
More than $1 million worth of equipment was stolen, and most of it was ultimately shipped to anonymous eBay bidders, including some in foreign nations, a federal indictment alleges.
Some of the stolen equipment was so sensitive, officials say, that the military is not allowed to sell it or give it away.
The materials sold online include sniper telescopes, grenade launcher sights, machine gun parts, night vision helmet mounts and gear used by U.S. Army Special Forces. The military equipment was sold to customers both in the U.S. and abroad, U.S. Attorney David Rivera said. The items, the indictment says, were sold to eBay customers around the globe, including in Russia, China, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Lithuania, Moldova, Malaysia, Romania and Mexico.
Federal agents now find themselves scrambling to find the items that have been sold online and are trying to get people who may have purchased some of the items to come forward.
Rivera was asked if officials were concerned that any of the equipment has landed in the hands of either foreign or domestic terrorists.
“We cannot state in whose hands these 1,600 items have gone to, but the investigation continues,” the federal prosecutor said.
He described the equipment as “extraordinarily, inherently dangerous.”
Rivera said he was especially concerned about criminals getting hold of a classified bulletproof vest designed to withstand heavy ammunition and a trigger mechanism that turns guns into automatic weapons.
In all, the military equipment was shipped to 10 foreign countries and brought in more than $750,000, said Robert Hammer, a resident agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations. He said it was disheartening that the soldiers were involved in the crime while noting the news this week that a contractor with the National Security Agency has been charged with stealing highly classified information.
“Both of these cases,” Hammer said, “should serve as a reminder of the threat to national security that is posed when individuals violate the trust that the government has bestowed on them.”
The six Fort Campbell soldiers and two civilians from nearby Clarksville, Tennessee, were named in a 27-page indictment.
Those charged are:
— Sgt. Michael Barlow, 29
— Sgt. Jonathan Wolford, 29
— Spc. Kyle Heade, 29
— Spc. Alexander Hollibaugh, 25
— Spc. Dustin Nelson, 22
— Spc. Aaron Warner, 24.
— Cory Wilson, 42, also known as Jason Cory Wilson
— John Roberts, 26.
Five of the eight were arrested Thursday, officials said, and the others were expected to surrender. Court records only listed attorneys for Roberts, Wilson and Barlow. Two of the attorneys did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment. Barlow’s attorney was out of the office.
The indictment alleges that the conspiracy began about 2013 and ended in February of this year. Roberts and Wilson are accused of setting up the eBay accounts and selling the equipment online. The eBay online bidding site suspended their accounts for violating the company’s policy by listing improper items on sale. However, they were able to continue to sell the stolen Army property by using alternate accounts, court documents say.
“eBay worked collaboratively with law enforcement agencies, providing them with the information necessary to support their case,” the company said in a statement. “eBay has clear policies on what can and can’t be listed across various categories, and we have dedicated teams that proactively and reactively remove listings that are not permitted to be sold on our marketplace.”