Marine, three civilians accused in $1.5 million Parris Island razor blade conspiracy, theft
By WADE LIVINGSTON | The Island Packet | Published: October 24, 2018
PARRIS ISLAND (Tribune News Service) — A Marine and three civilian employees have been accused of stealing more than $1.5 million — much of it in the form of razor blades — from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, according to court documents.
The news, first reported by The Post and Courier, comes after the Oct. 10 federal indictment of Orlando Byson, Tommie Harrison Jr. and Sarah Brutus, who are Department of Defense employees alleged to have conspired to defraud the government. Byson and Harrison Jr. are further alleged to have stolen government property.
Marine Corps First Sgt. Lascelles Chambers — referred to as “L.C.” in the indictment, but whose identity was confirmed by Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Roger Hollenbeck — is accused of engineering the plot, according to court documents.
Chambers was previously assigned to Parris Island, according to court records. In an email to The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette, Hollenbeck said Chambers is currently an active duty Marine with 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, a Marine Forces Reserve unit in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Chambers is alleged to have approached Brutus, who worked at the “Recruit Store,” and “asked her to steal boxes of high-end Gillette razors, razor blades and other items from the Recruit Store,” the indictment said.
Brutus, in turn, is alleged to have introduced Chambers to Byson and Harrison Jr. — who work at the store’s warehouse — to allegedly “participate in the conspiracy,” according to the indictment.
Thefts from the warehouse occurred weekly, court documents said. Byson and Harrison Jr. were allegedly able to “evade or disable the security cameras,” which allowed the theft “to continue undetected for an extended period.”
Parris Island has two recruit stores, according to depot spokesperson 1st Lt. Bryan McDonnell. “The stores are supplied by an independent warehouse and the items are sold to recruits at a reduced rate,” he wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon.
The stores are designed to streamline purchasing and limit impact on training time while reducing costs for recruits.
According to the indictment, the scheme can be traced as far back as January 2017, and allegedly continued by mail, after Chambers was transferred in March to the Florida base.
Chambers will “be charged elsewhere,” according to the indictment.
“The case is pending an Article 32 hearing which has yet to be scheduled,” Hollenbeck said. At such a hearing, officials can decide whether to send a case to a court-martial.
Byson, Harrison Jr. and Brutus are scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at Charleston’s U.S. District Courthouse on Broad Street, according to court records.