Paul Whelan, the U.S. citizen and former Marine detained in Russia on espionage charges, was reportedly convicted of attempting to steal roughly ten grand from Uncle Sam while deployed to Iraq in 2006, according to the Washington Post.
In addition to larceny, specifically the attempted theft of $10,410.59 of US government money, he also reportedly bounced checks to the tune of $6,000. And, to make matters worse, he wrongfully used another person's Social Security number to engage in unlawful activity.
A special court martial also found him guilty of failing to report his vacation time.
For his crimes, he was ultimately discharged from the Marine Corps for bad conduct, a ruling he unsuccessfully attempted to appeal. He served 14 years in the Corps before he was discharged.
Whelan was arrested in Moscow last week. Russian authorities claim the 48-year-old American, who is being held in Lefortovo Prison, was working as a spy. Russia has not publicly presented any evidence to support the charges against Whelan. Some observers have said they believe Whelan's arrest was made on flimsy grounds and is likely retribution for the arrest of a suspected Russian spy.
Whelan's case is a curious one as four different countries — Canada, the U.S., Britain, and Ireland — all claim him as a citizen, and each is seeking consular access. He apparently had four passports, which he is said to have collected for fun.
The detained former Marine had an interest in Russia, though.
Currently a corporate security expert, Whelan made several trips to Russia, had Russian friends, was reportedly learning Russian, and has been using Russian social media for years, CNN and the Post reported. Whelan's family says that he he recently flew to Moscow to attend the wedding.
Whelan's arrest comes just two weeks after alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in the US to conspiracy charges. Russia argues that Butina is a political prisoner. If Whelan is found guilty of espionage, he could face 10 to 20 years in prison.
Up to 1,000 U.S. troops could remain in Syria — more than twice as many as originally announced, according to the Wall Street Journal.
President Donald Trump initially announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but U.S. officials said in February that several hundred troops are expected to remain in Syria to create a "safe zone" along the border with Turkey and to man the al-Tanf garrison, which is located along a supply rote that would allow Iran to supply its proxies in Syria.
On Sunday, Dion Nissenbaum and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported that the U.S. military is considering leaving as many as 1,000 troops in Syria to prevent Turkey from attacking the United States' Kurdish allies. So far, the United States and Turkey have failed to agree on how to secure the proposed safe zone.
U.S. Army Sgt. James R. Moore of Portland, Ore., a logitstics NCO with the 642nd Regional Support Group, shoots at the Fort Pickett rifle range as part of the Mortuary Affairs Exercise Aug. 15, 2018. (U.S. Army/Sgt. 1st Class Gary A. Witte, 642nd Regional Support Group)
White supremacists take part in a march the night before the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, VA. (Associated Press photo)
Seven U.S. service members have reportedly been identified as members of Identity Evropa, a white nationalist group founded by a Marine veteran and tied to the 2017 Charlottesville rally, according to leaked online chat logs examined by HuffPost.
Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 17, 2019 (Reuters)
BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - Falling bombs raised smoke over Islamic State's last enclave in east Syria on Sunday, obscuring the huddle of vehicles and makeshift shelters to which the group's self-declared "caliphate" has been reduced.