Defense Department Officials Sentenced for Illegal Military Equipment Sales

A former Defense Department official was sentenced to 18 months in prison and another pleaded guilty Tuesday to selling military equipment in the Middle East and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Most of the equipment was unneeded and scheduled for auction, but prosecutors said the illegal deals also included the sale of Humvees that were still weaponized and were not supposed to have been sold.

Ronald W. Wiseman was sentenced for violating federal weapons laws. Wiseman worked for the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service, the Pentagon agency that sells excess military equipment.

The agency contracts with overseas auctioneers to sell the equipment and return the money to the government. Prosecutors said Wiseman and a Saudi Arabian auctioneer agreed to sell some equipment off the books and share in the profits.

Wiseman pleaded guilty in May and agreed to cooperate in a federal investigation. A second U.S. official, Gayden C. Woodson, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy to steal government property.

Woodson said that in January 2001, he joined Wiseman's conspiracy and continued it after Wiseman left the Middle East the following year. Woodson admitted in federal court that he made at least 19 illegal transactions and received about $350,000.

U.S. authorities have recovered some of the Humvees and traced others to Spain, the Czech Republic and other countries, according to court documents.

"By putting militarized vehicles into an unregulated stream of foreign commerce, in a part of the world in which United States military personnel are engaged in deadly conflict with insurgency forces, the defendant put those vehicles within reach of adversaries who could use them against our own," prosecutor Laura A. Ingersoll wrote.

Woodson is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 31.