From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore:
A federal grand jury has returned two indictments charging four civilians employed at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) with theft of government property, specifically aluminum and copper to which the defendants had access as part of their jobs. The indictments were returned on June 7, 2012. One of the defendants, Timothy Bittner, was arrested at work today.
Timothy J. Bittner, age 52, of Bel Air, Maryland; Robert W. Reynolds, age 29 of Felton, Pennsylvania; and Steven M..Coale, age 33, of North East, Maryland, are charged in the first indictment with conspiracy to steal and theft of government property, specifically, over $87,000 worth of copper wire.
Ronald Phillips Baker, Sr., age 62, of Havre de Grace, Maryland, is charged in the second indictment with theft of government property, specifically, over 2,700 pounds of aluminum worth over $110,000 on one occasion, and a total of more than 27,000 pounds.
The indictments were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service – Mid-Atlantic Field Office; the Directorate of Emergency Services, U.S. Army Garrison, Aberdeen Proving Ground; and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“The indictments should send a strong message that this type of egregious behavior – allegations of theft while supposedly working on the Government clock, to include even stripping active copper wire from an APG building – will not be tolerated,” said Robert Craig, Special Agent in Charge for the DCIS, Mid-Atlantic Field Office.
According to their indictment, Bittner, Reynolds and Coale were employed as electricians at APG’s Directorate of Public Works. From March through November 2011, the defendants allegedly used their access to the buildings in the Edgewood area of APG and their expertise as electricians to steal copper fixtures and copper wire from government buildings. During work, the defendants allegedly pulled the wire, including wire in current use, and took the copper and copper wire in their government vehicles to the APG parking lot where they transferred the stolen items to their personal cars. The defendants rented space at a storage facility to store the copper and copper wire and bought a stripping machine, which they used to remove the insulation from the copper wire to increase the price. The defendants are alleged to have sold the copper to metal recyclers in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware as scrap, and divided the proceeds which totaled approximately $87,000.
According to Baker’s two count indictment, Baker operated a patrol boat on the Chesapeake Bay to keep boats away from waters near APG which were affected by weapons testing. Baker had a security clearance to access the APG boat docks. On April 23, 2012, Baker used his security clearance to access a secure area where he allegedly stole fabricated aluminum outriggers which weighed more than 2,740 pounds and were worth more than $110,000. The indictment further alleges that from September 2010 through April 2012, Baker stole over 27,000 pounds of aluminum.
All four defendants face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for theft of government property. Bittner, Reynolds and Coale also face a maximum of five years in prison for conspiracy to steal government property. An initial appearance has been scheduled today for Bittner at 2:00 p.m. in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. Initial appearances for the remaining defendants are expected to be scheduled next week.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the DCIS, APG’s Directorate of Emergency Services and FBI for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked AssistantU.S. Attorney Joyce K. McDonald, Special Assistant United States Attorney David I. Sharfstein, of the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Marlaire, who are prosecuting the cases.