Guy Accused of Selling $1M in Stolen Military Equipment: 'I Didn't Try to Hide Anything'

John Roberts is on trial this week
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 31, 2017 7:47 PM CDT
Guy Accused of Selling $1M in Stolen Military Equipment: I Didn't Know It Was Stolen
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / RuslanDashinsky)

More than $1 million in weapons parts and sensitive military equipment was stolen out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and sold in a vast black market, some of it to foreign buyers through eBay, according to testimony at a federal trial this week. The equipment—some of it re-sold to buyers in Russia, China, Mexico, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and Ukraine—included machine gun and rifle parts, body armor, helmets, gun sights, generators, medical equipment and more, the AP reports. John Roberts, of Clarksville, Tennessee, is being tried in Nashville on charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to steal and sell government property, and violating the Arms Export Control Act. Six soldiers and his civilian business partner made plea deals in exchange for their testimony. Roberts, 27, testified Wednesday that he did not know the soldiers were bringing him stolen equipment, and said the military items he bought and sold were commonly found in surplus stores, on eBay and in gun stores.

"I didn't try to hide anything," Roberts said Wednesday. "That's why I filed taxes on everything I sold on eBay. I thought it was OK." Roberts said the soldiers told him the equipment was legally purchased from other soldiers or that the Army was discarding the equipment. He also said he didn't know that he needed to have a license to export certain items overseas. But a former business partner, Cory Wilson, testified that he and Roberts would find soldiers selling military items through classified ads or on Facebook, and then ask them for more expensive and harder-to-find items. It was "fast easy money," Wilson said. Wilson pleaded guilty to buying and selling stolen military equipment, wire fraud and violating the Arms Export Control Act. A 14-member jury will hear closing arguments and begin deliberations in the case on Thursday. Click for much more on the case. (Read more US Army stories.)

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