By Debbie Gregory.
A former Marine Corps staff sergeant has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $100,000 worth of gear and equipment from Marine Helicopter Squadron One.
From September 2013 to April 2015, Branden Roy Baker of Stafford, Virginia stole nearly $100,000 in night vision equipment from Marine One, the Quantico, Virginia-based unit that transports the president and other executives.
While most of our servicemembers have the highest integrity, occasionally a bad apple can be found in the barrel. Baker got caught when he tried to sell everything on eBay.
Baker has pleaded guilty and faces up to 10 years in prison. While Baker’s sentence will more than likely be less than the federal maximum, he was ordered by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to pay $94,000 in restitution to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. He will be sentenced on August 11th.
Baker stole “at least fifty-one image intensifier tubes and other night vision parts worth approximately $94,392 from a department and agency of the United States, specifically from Marine Helicopter Squadron-One (HMX-l), a part of the Department of the Navy,” a statement of facts in Baker’s plea agreement reads.
Baker first joined the Marines in 2002. He deployed to Iraq in 2008 and to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
He held three military occupational specialties: aviation quality assurance representative, aviation precision measurement equipment calibration and repair technician, and presidential support specialist.
Public records also indicate that Baker may have been reselling military equipment since 2014 as part of an under-the-table business he called “Covert Customs.” At this point, it’s unclear how much money Baker made selling the stolen equipment.