YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — A former Navy master chief petty officer was sentenced Dec. 11 to four years in prison for stealing nearly $40 million in fuel from the U.S. Army in Iraq, according to the Department of Justice.

Robert Jeffery, 56, was one of multiple conspirators who sold the fuel on the black market in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, according to the Eastern Virginia district of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Web site. Jeffery served at Yokosuka Naval Base with Destroyer Squadron 15 from 1990 to 1996 and then with the Afloat Training Group until 1998, according to the Navy Personnel Command. He entered the Navy Reserve in 1999 and was last known to be living in the Philippines.

Jeffery was also sentenced to two years of supervised release following his prison term. He was convicted in August on charges of conspiracy and theft of government property.

In May 2008, agents began surveillance of Jeffery, watching him escort fuel trucks off Camp Victory, where he met with several unidentified men, according to court documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.

“Jeffery would allow these individuals to take custody of the trucks and drive them, unescorted, onto Route Irish toward downtown Baghdad to dispose of the fuel,” stated Army Criminal Investigative Command agent Janet Keller in an affidavit.

Jeffery and his co-conspirators stole more than 10 million gallons of fuel, Keller stated.

The affidavit laid out how Jeffery filed false paperwork at Combat Operating Post Adder in Tallil to obtain a Common Access Card identifying him as a contractor and how his forging the signature of the contracting officer for authorization led to his undoing.

The contracting officer later told special agents that he wasn’t even in Iraq when the document was signed. Agents then found documents authorizing Jeffery and others to obtain up to 74,000 gallons of fuel per day under fake military contracts, according to court documents.

Later that month, co-conspirator Lee William Dubois attempted to pass another fake contract authorizing an additional 11,500 gallons of fuel per day, according to court documents. Dubois was later arrested and then confessed to conspiring with Jeffery and others. In August, Dubois received 36 months in prison.

Robert Young, a former Army captain who prosecutors say made $1 million in profits from the theft, received eight years, one month in prison at his November sentencing. Sentencing for co-conspirator Michel Jamil is scheduled for Feb. 12, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The courts have also ordered the conspirators to pay $16.8 million in restitution.

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