WASHINGTON – U.S. Army Sergeant Christopher Weaver pleaded guilty today to bribery charges for his role in the theft of fuel at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, announced Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer.
Weaver, 29, of Fort Carson, Colo., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Marcia S. Krieger in the District of Colorado to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and one count of bribery.
Weaver’s plea is the second guilty plea arising from an investigation into fuel thefts at FOB Fenty. On Aug. 3, 2012, Weaver’s co-conspirator Jonathan Hightower, 30, of Houston, pleaded guilty for his role in the scheme.
According to court documents, from approximately January 2010 through June 2010, Weaver and Hightower were involved in overseeing the delivery of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases. As part of this process, documents generally described as “transportation movement requests” (TMRs) were created, which authorized the movement of the fuel. Weaver pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy in which fraudulent TMRs, which purported to authorize the transport of fuel from FOB Fenty to other military bases, were created even though no legitimate fuel transportation was required. After the trucks were filled with fuel, these fraudulent documents were used by the drivers of the fuel trucks at FOB Fenty’s departure checkpoint in order to justify the trucks’ departures from FOB Fenty. In truth, according to court documents, the fuel was simply stolen.
Weaver pleaded guilty to receiving payments from a representative of a military contractor that was responsible for transporting fuel in Afghanistan in exchange for facilitating the theft of approximately 100 fuel trucks. According to Weaver’s signed plea agreement, the loss to the United States as a result of the scheme was in excess of $1.5 million. According to court documents, Weaver sent cash back from Afghanistan to the United States, in part, by mailing the money inside a stuffed bear.
According to court documents, Hightower worked in Afghanistan as an employee of FLUOR Inc., a U.S. government contractor, from January 2010 to June 2010, where he served as a petroleum supply specialist and was responsible for receiving and disbursing fuel – primarily jet fuel known as JP-8 – for use at FOB Fenty or for transport to other military bases. According to court documents, Hightower, Weaver and others would receive cash from a representative of a military contractor that was responsible for transporting fuel in Afghanistan, and the money would be apportioned among the conspirators.
Hightower pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez in the District of Colorado to two counts of conspiracy to receive bribes – one count involving his conspiracy with Weaver, and another count involving his conspiracy with another alleged co-conspirator at FOB Fenty. Hightower admitted facilitating the theft of over 100 trucks of fuel and a loss to the United States in excess of $1.5 million.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark W. Pletcher of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, formerly of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Special Trial Attorney Mark H. Dubester of the Fraud Section. The cases were investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; the Department of the Army, Criminal Investigations Division; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service; the FBI; and the Department of the Air Force, Office of Special Investigations. Valuable assistance was also provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.