Two Anniston Army Depot police officers and a third man have been federally charged with allegedly conspiring to steal military equipment from the facility as part of an ongoing investigation that ensnared six others so far, prosecutors said Thursday.
The officers — 53-year-old Anniston resident Kelvin Battle and Shane Farthing, 41, of Gadsden — allegedly stole military property from the depot, including night vision equipment.
The alleged middleman of the scheme, 62-year-old Goodwater resident Steve Bonner, sold the stolen goods to buyers and delivered the items to the owner of a military surplus store in Sylacauga, according to Prim Escalona, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
The equipment was designed to be attached to military weapon systems to provide users with the ability to use the weapons at night or improve their ability to acquire a target, prosecutors said.
The three men were each charged with one count of conspiracy to steal United States property while Battle and Bonner were also charged with a count related to specific instances of stealing or selling stolen property from the depot, according to prosecutors.
Battle was also charged with two counts of wire fraud in connection with false statements made to obtain emergency loans and a loan guarantee from the U.S. Small Business Administration under programs designed to provide support to small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Farthing has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy to steal United States property. The agreement includes restitution and a requirement that Farthing return the stolen items.
Two civilian workers at the depot earlier pleaded guilty to stealing night vision equipment from the facility. Four others have also pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty in connection with the scheme.
The men face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the conspiracy charge.
The maximum penalty for the theft of government property charge is 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, while the maximum punishment for the wire fraud charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is also being investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Defense Logistics Agency Office of the Inspector General.
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