Va. man sentenced for Iraq generator theft

A Richmond man who helped steal two 10-ton electrical generators from a military base in Iraq in four years ago was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison and ordered to pay $352,111 in restitution.

Ruebin S. Thomas, 35, a civilian employed by Honeywell Technologies Solutions at the Camp Victory Base Complex in 2009, was sentenced to a stiffer term than the two years called for at the top of the sentencing guidelines sought by prosecutors.

“It seems to me that a message needs to be sent,” said U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne in imposing the sentence.

Payne said he was concerned the enemy could have somehow benefited from the equipment, capable of generating 1.1 megawatts. Payne asked David T. Maguire, an assistant U.S. attorney, what happened to the generators.

“We don’t know. … Mr. Thomas does not know, either,” said Maguire. Maguire and Thomas’s lawyer, George A. Townsend IV, said Thomas was cooperating in a continuing investigation.

Maguire said that had Thomas not pleaded guilty under the agreement, witnesses would have to have come from Iraq and elsewhere.

New details about the thefts came out at Thomas’s sentencing hearing Tuesday. The generators were removed by flatbed truck from the sprawling U.S. base by an Iraqi national who ran a shipping company that moved goods for American forces.

The unidentified businessman paid Thomas $10,000 in cash, which he split with another unidentified person, Townsend said.

Townsend said Thomas’s role in the theft was relatively minor and that it was his understanding the generators would be used in rebuilding Iraq.

Maguire, however, said Thomas had to take the word of a thief about how the generators would be used and he could only hope they would not go to the enemy, an outcome Maguire said remains a “haunting possibility.”

Thomas is a U.S. Army veteran with no prior criminal record. Payne allowed him to turn himself in to begin serving his sentence on Feb. 4.

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