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Ex-Green Beret pleads guilty to stealing government funds during deployment

A fifth soldier in a case that dates to 2009 has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and receiving stolen government property, officials said Monday.

William Todd Chamberlain, 46, of Raleigh, faces a combined maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release; a $500,000 fine; mandatory restitution; and forfeiture of $40,000, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Officials said Chamberlain, a former 3rd Special Forces Group soldier at Fort Bragg, was initially charged in an indictment filed June 25, 2014. Officials said Chamberlain filed numerous pretrial motions that included claims that he needed access to classified information to defend himself. Senior U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm J. Howard ruled against the claim, concluding the classified information would not be helpful to his defense, officials said.

Four other soldiers — Cleo Autry, Jeffrey Cook, Deric Harper and Barry Walls — pleaded guilty in 2014 to charges of stealing about $200,000 between July 2009 and January 2010 while deployed together in Afghanistan.

“Our office stands committed to routing out public corruption,” U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. said. “Chamberlain and his teammates abused the unique trust bestowed upon them by the military as members of the Special Forces.”

While deployed, the soldiers had access to operation funds used for mission-critical items; commander’s emergency response funds used for humanitarian projects such as roads, schools and medical clinics; and funds to support counterterrorism operations.

Court records say Chamberlain, a sergeant first class at the time, was the senior noncommissioned officer in the group. Chamberlain stole $6,100 worth of federal funds between Oct. 9, 2009, and Nov. 11, 2009, records say.

“Three of his teammates would have testified that they handed him large sums of U.S. currency and saw him at the post office purchasing postal money …read more

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