The Army has won two convictions in connection with the theft of more than $600,000 worth of weapons accessories from a Joint Base Lewis-McChord infantry headquarters late last year.
It is prosecuting a third soldier, Pvt. Nicholas Solt of Slatington, Pa.
Previously, Solt was the only suspect the Army publicly identified from its investigation into a plot to steal and resell equipment that included the latest rifle scopes, laser sights and night-vision goggles.
The theft gained notoriety in early January when a Lewis-McChord commander placed about 100 soldiers in the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment on “lockdown” for six days to shake out information. Soldiers were mostly confined to their unit headquarters and dining facilities.
In past months, Army officials would not say whether they thought Solt acted alone. They would not confirm they were looking for people they thought helped the soldier obtain weapons accessories from his company headquarters.
The news of the two convictions shows the Army thinks multiple soldiers had a hand in stealing the equipment from a secure location and distributing the accessories outside Lewis-McChord.
Spc. Joshua Chandler, 21, was convicted July 11 of larceny of government property and conspiracy to commit larceny. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, forfeiture of all pay and reduction in rank to private and was dishonorably discharged.
Spc. David Green also pleaded guilty to charges of larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny. He was sentenced to one month of confinement and a reduction in rank to private and received a bad-conduct discharge.
Solt faces up to 59 years in prison if he’s convicted of six charges: larceny of military property, entering a government building with intent to commit a crime, attempting to sell optical and targeting equipment, threatening to kill another person, possessing narcotics and possessing steroids. It is not clear yet when his case will go to court-martial.
The Army, working the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, says it recovered some 98 percent of the military equipment that went missing. Commanders insisted the “lockdown” played a key role in shaking loose information.
A company commander in the 4th Battalion discovered the missing weapons accessories in a routine search in late December. At the time, the Army said few people could have gained access to the gear.
The 4th Battalion is part of Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. That brigade returned from Iraq in September 2010 and is preparing for an Afghanistan deployment this fall.