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Ft. Bragg sergeant convicted in theft of $420,000 of jet fuel from Afghanistan base

GREENVILLE — A U.S. Army sergeant from a Fort Bragg-based unit helped to steal more than 180,000 gallons of jet fuel from a military base in Afghanistan, a North Carolina court has found.

Sgt. 1st Class James Edward Travis, of the 4th Battalion in the 3rd Special Forces Group, was sentenced on Wednesday to five years in prison, according to the United States Attorney’s office in eastern North Carolina.

Travis, of Hope Mills, was deployed in Afghanistan for most of 2012. While there, he paid another soldier to escort an Afghan driver with a tanker truck onto Forward Operating Base Sharana on multiple occasions, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of North Carolina’s Eastern District. Travis

The other soldier would then load fuel onto the tanker and escort the driver back off the base, according to the federal attorney’s office. Travis helped steal 182,915 gallons of fuel through the scheme, with an estimated value of about $422,000, the attorney’s office said in a written release.

“Theft of fuel in a war zone is serious. Not only does it rob U.S. taxpayers and damage the reconstruction effort, stolen fuel can also wind up in the hands of insurgents bent on harming Americans,” said John Spoko, the military inspector general overseeing reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, in a written release.

Travis also pleaded guilty in December to “demanding, seeking, and accepting bribes” as he coordinated contracts for cargo vehicles, according to the attorney’s office.

Travis accepted illegal kickbacks of $4,000 to $7,000 as he distributed the contracts, the attorney’s office stated, solicited the help of a civilian contractor to get the money back to the United States, and later told investigators that he’d won the cash while gambling, the attorney’s office wrote.

Public records do not detail the arrangements for the kickbacks, according to Don Connelly, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Travis faces three years probation after his 5-year sentence. Other people face federal prosecution related to the investigation into Travis, but Connelly declined to name them.

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