In order to fund a high-stakes poker habit and buy luxury vehicles and a second home, a naval officer based in Virginia Beach helped swindle the government out of $2.7 million, according to federal prosecutors.
Lt. Randolph Prince, 45, was sentenced this week to more than four years in federal prison.
The prosecution asked for 7½ years, while the defense asked for two.
"It's a shame that he squandered an otherwise outstanding 27-year Naval career," defense attorney Shawn Cline said in an email. "He suffered from a terrible gambling addiction and abused a position of trust to fuel that addiction."
Prince, a member of of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2, pleaded guilty in August to wire fraud and making a false statement on his 2014 tax return.
According to court documents, Prince, as a member of his unit's supply staff, steered government contracts to three sham companies that were run by his friends. They were selling the Navy "inert training aids," or fake bombs, that were never shipped but marked as delivered.
Among his co-conspirators were Lt. j.g. Courtney Cloman, a naval flight officer, and Clayton Pressley III, a former sailor. Both have pleaded guilty to participating in the fraud.
Pressley, who netted more than $644,000 from the conspiracy, was sentenced last year to two years in prison. That is on top of four years and two months he received for stealing the identities of his subordinates in an unrelated federal case.
Cloman is set to be sentenced Feb. 7.
Shawn Cline, Prince's attorney, argued Pressley was the scheme's true leader. He said Pressley developed the plan and recruited Prince and others to participate.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Layne acknowledged Pressley — a Bronze Star recipient — helped form one of the firms involved in the scheme and assisted in its operations. But, he said, the scheme involved two other sham companies.
In court documents, Cline asked the court for leniency in light of his client's lengthy military record. Prince enlisted in 1991, at the age of 18, and was commissioned in 2008. He became a lieutenant in 2012.
"When his time in service is remembered, it won't be for the fact that he rose from the lowest enlisted ranks to the grade of Lieutenant, or that he served in a dangerous war zone in direct combat when his nation needed him most. It will be the events of this sentencing hearing that are his legacy," Cline wrote. "Rather than being something with which he can look back on with pride, he will spend the rest of his life hoping that the people with whom he interacts are not aware of the time he spent serving in the Navy."
Layne said Prince still deserved a lengthy sentence. Prince, he noted, controlled the fraud from beginning to end — both steering the fraudulent orders to the sham companies and also telling the Navy the shipments had been delivered when they had not.
"The greed underpinning Prince's activities is shocking, and his actions were impressively calculated," Layne said.
In addition to the prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar ordered Prince to pay $2,719,907 in restitution.
The U.S. Coast Guard Legend-class maritime security cutter USCGC Bertholf (WMSL 750) pulls into Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawii, U.S. to support the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise in this June 29, 2012 handout photo. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Dasbach via Reuters)
The United States sent Navy and Coast Guard ships through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the military said, as the United States increases the frequency of movement through the strategic waterway despite opposition from China.
The voyage risks further raising tensions with China but will likely be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from Washington amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.
U.S. President Donald Trump departs on travel to Palm Beach, Florida from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 22, 2019. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election did not find that any U.S. or Trump campaign officials knowingly conspired with Russia, according to details released on Sunday.
Attorney General William Barr sent a summary of conclusions from the report to congressional leaders and the media on Sunday afternoon. Mueller concluded his investigation on Friday after nearly two years, turning in a report to the top U.S. law enforcement officer.
Read Barr's letter to congressional leaders below:
This is a developing story and will be updated with new information as it becomes available.
CARACAS (Reuters) - Two Russian air force planes landed in Venezuela's main airport on Saturday carrying a Russian defense official and nearly 100 troops, according to a local journalist, amid strengthening ties between Caracas and Moscow.
A flight-tracking website showed that two planes left from a Russian military airport bound for Caracas on Friday, and another flight-tracking site showed that one plane left Caracas on Sunday.
If the Marine Corps is serious about getting ready to take on a near-peer enemy like China in the future, then it's time to fold its 13-year-old special operations command and apply those resources elsewhere.
At least that's the argument one retired Marine officer made this week while presenting ways the service can better prepare for large-scale naval operations – and it's causing quite a stir in the Marine Corps special operations community.