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Navy Officer Allegedly Stole $2.7 Million To Feed High-Stakes Poker Habit
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.
©2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An airman at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was arrested and charged with murder on Sunday after a shooting at a Raleigh night club that killed a 21-year-old man, the Air Force and the Raleigh Police Department said.