Fort Carson sergeants sought on suspicion of selling stolen military equipment
By JAKOB RODGERS | The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette | Published: April 26, 2014
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Two Fort Carson sergeants are accused of selling stolen military equipment that one of them marketed as "untraceable" or "lost," Army investigators say.
Tyler Milligan and Jodi Coker were booked into the El Paso County jail Friday after a sting operation targeting Milligan's alleged offer to sell night-vision goggles and firearm silencers, affidavits show.
The investigation came to light Friday after Fountain police and Army investigators announced the discovery of two pipe bombs along with "other possible explosive items" in a house on the 500 block of Turf Trail Place in Fountain. El Paso County assessor's records and the affidavits show that Coker owns the house where the pipe bombs were found.
In a Fountain police news release, investigators alluded to a wider investigation but offered no details on the sting or the stolen Army equipment.
Court documents obtained by The Gazette, however, depicted an elaborate, Hollywood-style black market deal at a Fountain gas station.
A tip from an Army Criminal Investigation Command "registered source" alerted Army investigators that Milligan wanted to sell military night-vision goggles and firearm suppressors - devices that Milligan called "Bananas" that muffle a gun's blast, according to the affidavits in support of the arrest warrants.
A mortarman who joined the Army in 2007, Milligan served a tour in Iraq in 2008 and arrived at Fort Carson in January 2013, marking his third post assignment, Army records show.
Working off the tip, a Fort Carson special agent tried to make a purchase deal with Milligan, the affidavit said.
At a Starbucks near the post, Milligan touted a wide-ranging selection of silencers, including those fitting .22 caliber long rifles and .50 caliber guns, special agents allege.
A man and a woman carrying a baby's car seat also were at that meeting, and the vehicle they drove was registered to Sgt. Jodi Coker, according to the affidavits.
A mortarman, Coker joined the Army in 2009 and deployed for a year to Iraq while stationed at Fort Carson, his only duty station, Army records show.
Five days after the Starbucks meeting, the special agent met Milligan in the parking lot of a different Starbucks and then drove to a gas station across the street, where the agent handed over cash, the affidavits said. Milligan originally offered the silencers for about $1,000.
Milligan went into the gas station bathroom, and when he came out, he told the agent to walk in and say "Meryl this is snake," the affidavit said.
Upon saying the code phrase, a person flushed the toilet and gave the agent a silencer inside an MRE - or meals ready to eat - bag, special agents allege. The serial number had been scratched off the M4 suppressor, valued at about $10,000, the affidavit said.
Surveillance footage revealed that Coker had been in the stall, investigators allege.
After the deal, Milligan kept inquiring about when the agent may want to buy a thermal scope, investigators allege.
His latest offer included the scope, three batteries and a red-dot sight for $2,500, the affidavits said.
The arrest warrants were issued on charges of possessing a dangerous weapon or illegal weapon, court records show.
Calls by The Gazette to Fort Carson public affairs officials and an Army Criminal Investigation Command for comment were not returned Friday.