Military News

Monday, June 24, 2019

Retired U.S. Army Colonel and Businessman Convicted for Conspiring to Bribe Senior Officials of The Republic of Haiti


BOSTON – A retired U.S. Army colonel and the chief executive officer of an investment company were convicted today by a federal jury in Boston of conspiring to bribe senior officials of the Republic of Haiti in connection with a planned multi-billion dollar infrastructure project in that country.

Joseph Baptiste, 64, of Fulton, Md., and Roger Richard Boncy, 74, a dual U.S. and Haitian citizen who resides in Madrid, Spain, were convicted of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Baptiste was also convicted of one count of violating the Travel Act and one count of money laundering conspiracy. U.S. District Court Judge Allison D. Burroughs scheduled sentencing for Sep. 12, 2019.

“Bribery of public officials corrodes public trust and victimizes the public these officials are supposed to serve,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “We will continue to target Americans who try to bribe foreign public officials for business advantage.”

“Richard Boncy and Joe Baptiste conspired to pay millions of dollars in bribes to Haitian officials to do business there,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Today’s guilty verdict sends a strong message that those who use corrupt means to obtain unfair and illegal business advantages will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible by the Department of Justice.”

“Mr. Baptiste and Mr. Boncy had no problem soliciting bribes to funnel to senior government officials in Haiti through blatantly illegal means,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division. “Every dirty dollar they were trying to secure undermines those who are trying to conduct business lawfully. Cases like this only fuel the FBI’s commitment to tackling corruption, and today’s guilty verdict ensures that both of them will be held accountable for their actions.”

Baptiste and Boncy solicited bribes from undercover agents in Boston who posed as potential investors in infrastructure projects in Haiti in connection with a proposed project to develop a port in the Mole-Saint-Nicolas area of Haiti. The proposed project was expected to cost approximately $84 million and was to involve the construction of multiple cement factories, a shipping-vessel recycling station, an international transshipment station with numerous slips for shipping vessels, a power plant, a petroleum depot and tourist facilities. During a recorded meeting at a Boston-area hotel, Boncy and Baptiste told the agents that they would funnel the payments to Haitian officials through a non-profit entity that Baptiste controlled – which is based in Maryland and purported to help impoverished residents of Haiti – in order to secure government approval of the project.

In telephone calls intercepted pursuant to a court-authorized wiretap, Boncy and Baptiste discussed bribing an aide to a high-level elected official in Haiti with a job on the port development project in exchange for the aide’s help in obtaining the elected official’s authorization for the project. Boncy and Baptiste also told the undercover agents that they would hide the bribes through money falsely earmarked for social programs and that they would bribe officials at all levels of the Haitian government.

The charges of violating the Travel Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy each provide for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. The charge of money laundering conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the gross gain or loss. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Lelling, AAG Benczkowski and FBI Boston SAC Bonavolonta made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kriss Basil of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit and Trial Attorney Elina A. Rubin-Smith of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.  

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Navy Sailor Sentenced for Attempted Communication of Classified National Defense Information


U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Kellogg III was sentenced last Friday at a general court-martial to three years of confinement after pleading guilty to charges related to the illegal communication of national defense information. Kellogg will receive a dishonorable discharge from the Navy and a reduction in rank from E-5 to E-1.

From May to September 2018, Kellogg, 26, served aboard the nuclear-powered warship USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) as a Nuclear Electrician’s Mate (EMN2). In this position, Kellogg had access to classified national defense information relating to the capabilities, operations, and maintenance of Navy nuclear propulsion systems.

According to a pretrial agreement, Kellogg admitted that while on active duty on August 27, 2018, he attempted to board a commercial airline from San Diego, California, to New York City with the intention of providing classified information regarding the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered warships to a journalist whom he thought would release the information to the public.

Kellogg separately admitted to, in July and August 2018, telling his roommate that he was planning to defect to Russia. During this time-period, Kellogg searched the Internet for information relating to flights to Moscow, contact information for the Russian Consulate in San Diego, and contact information for Sevmash, a Russian shipbuilding enterprise. He wrote to an email address associated with Sevmash stating, “I am willing.”

Furthermore, Kellogg admitted that, in May and August 2018, he photographed controlled spaces containing sensitive Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program information aboard the USS Vinson. He then communicated those photos to his father and ex-girlfriend, neither of whom possess a security clearance nor have a need to know about classified Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program information.

Kellogg also admitted that during June 2018 to August 2018, he failed to obey a lawful general order by wrongfully storing classified information in his berthing.

“The FBI is committed to protecting the nation’s critical assets, advanced technologies and sensitive information in the defense sector against all counterintelligence threats.” said Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner. “As demonstrated by this case, the FBI works closely with NCIS to investigate and prosecute those military members who intentionally risk our national security and violate the oath they took to protect our nation.”

“This sailor’s attempts to disclose classified Navy nuclear propulsion information posed a significant threat to national security and endangered the lives of American service members,” said Special Agent in Charge Garrett Waugh of the Southwest Field Office. “NCIS will continue to prioritize counterintelligence efforts as well as investigate and disrupt espionage activity directed at the Navy and Marine Corps.”

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation - San Diego Division and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service - Southwest Field Office. Investigators were also assisted by the San Diego Harbor Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Cmdr. Chris Czaplak, U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Senior Trial Counsel, Region Legal Service Office Southwest, Naval Base San Diego.

DEFENDANT

Stephen Kellogg III, Age: 26

Charge 1: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 134 – Title 18, United States Code, §793(d). Statutory maximum: Offense not capital

Charge 2: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 134 – Title 18, United States Code, §793(d). Statutory maximum: Offense not capital

Charge 3: Violation of the UCMJ, Article 92 – Failure to Obey a Lawful General Order

AGENCIES

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Naval Criminal Investigative Service

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

School Owner Indicted on Charges of Defrauding Department of Veterans Affairs Program Dedicated to Rehabilitating Disabled Military Veterans


            WASHINGTON – The owner of a physical security school has been indicted by a federal grand jury for defrauding a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program dedicated to rehabilitating military veterans with service-connecting disabilities and for making false statements to the VA.

            Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno of the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Kim Lampkins of the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), Mid-Atlantic Field Office made the announcement.

            Francis Engles, 63, of Bowie, Maryland, was charged on April 18, 2019, in a 20-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. The indictment was unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

            The indictment alleges that Engles was the co-owner and operator of Engles Security Training School (Engles Security).  Engles Security was located in Maryland and specialized in security guard and related courses.  In August 2015, Engles Security became an approved vendor of the VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) program, which provides disabled U.S. military veterans with education and employment-related services.  Thereafter, Engles submitted documents to the VA representing that he was providing 15 veterans with months-long courses for 40 hours per week and over 600 total hours.  In fact, Engles Security allegedly offered veterans far less than what Engles represented to the VA.  Engles allegedly ended some classes after less than a month, even though he represented to the VA that the veterans’ classes would last for several months.  In some instances, he allegedly offered only a few hours of class per day, while representing that the students would be in school for forty hours per week.  According to the indictment, Engles frequently cancelled classes without notice or makeup classes and instructors showed up late and ended class early.

            To advance and prolong his scheme, Engles allegedly created and sent to the VA “Certificates of Training” stating that veterans had completed courses that they in fact had not completed or, in some instances, had not taken at all.  Similarly, Engles allegedly submitted letters to the VA falsely stating that the veterans had been employed by Engles’ private security business.  Engles also allegedly instructed veterans to sign attendance sheets representing that they had attended class sessions, which they did not in fact attend.

            Engles allegedly charged the VA thousands of dollars more for veterans’ courses than he charged non-veterans who took the same or similar courses.  In total, the VA paid Engles Security over $300,000 for the purported education of 15 veterans.

            An indictment contains only allegations.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

            The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the VA Office of Inspector General are investigating the case.  Trial Attorney Simon J. Cataldo of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Misler of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia are prosecuting the case.