• August 30, 2014

Leader of theft ring pleads guilty

Cove resident sentenced for stealing $7M in military equipment

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Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013 4:30 am

WACO — A federal judge sentenced the leader of a multimillion dollar theft ring that stole military equipment from Fort Hood to two years in federal prison Wednesday.

Michael Bartsh, 62, previously pleaded guilty to charges of illegally exporting defense articles, receiving stolen government property and money laundering.

Bartsh, a Copperas Cove resident, admitted to stealing an estimated $7 million in equipment from Fort Hood.

Those items included night vision equipment, optics for weaponry, body armor and military clothing. His charge specifically mentions five “AN/PEG15 Advanced Target Pointer Illuminator Lasers” he illegally exported from the U.S. to Japan.

The thefts occurred between 2007 and 2010, according to court documents.

Seven other individuals were convicted on federal charges resulting from an investigation into the theft ring. Sentences range from six months to 10 years, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Their charges included money laundering, illegal export of defense articles, conspiracy and felon in possession of a firearm.

The investigation into further thefts is ongoing and led by the Central Texas Counter Proliferation Task Force.The group consists of agents from the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Navy, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

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