2 Air Force staff sergeants charged with stealing ammunition
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Two Fairchild Air Force Base staff sergeants face charges of stealing thousands of rounds of ammunition from the Spokane, Washington, base in a case with antigovernment overtones.
John I. Sanger and Eric Eagleton were named in a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Spokane on Tuesday. The complaint accused both men of taking the ammunition for personal use at a shooting range near Fishtrap Lake, The Spokesman-Review reported Wednesday.
The Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force had been investigating Sanger after linking him with a pair of social media accounts that made antigovernment statements in the months between the 2020 presidential election and the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to court documents.
In a comment posted Dec. 2, 2020, one of the accounts linked to Sanger said: “I think the capital needs to be seized … No trial or chance to escape,” according to court records.
Four days later, the same account wrote, “They defrauded our election system and are getting away with it. That means this system has run it’s course. People have to die,” according to court documents.
An undercover agent working with the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations began chatting with Sanger, who “told the (agent) he is actively recruiting in hopes of forming a local cell of like-minded individuals.”
Last month, the undercover agent and Sanger met Eagleton at a truck stop before going target-shooting. The agent was wearing a recording device, and Eagleton told the agent that members of the base’s Combat Arms Training Management section routinely stole ammunition, “up to 3,000 rounds in a day,” according to court documents.
During the meeting, Eagleton also discussed “his anti-Semitic views and dislike for Jews,” according to court documents.
Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents observed the men shooting ammunition taken from cans that appeared similar to those used for combat arms training. The packaging contained numbers that a check of base records showed had been expended on-base in training exercises, according to court documents.
Both men face charges of conspiracy to commit theft of government property and possession of stolen ammunition. The offense can carry up to a five-year prison sentence.
The office of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington had not yet assigned an attorney to Sanger. Eagleton’s attorney David Miller could not be immediately reached for comment
In a statement, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington Vanessa Waldref commended FBI and Air Force investigators for working together to build the case.
“So many of those who serve at Fairchild Air Force Base are career public servants who sacrifice their time, energy, and even their lives to keep America safe,” Waldref said. “When individuals put their own interests ahead of others and abuse the public trust, those individuals dishonor the countless public servants who dedicate their lives to government and military service.”
"I am in awe of how our law enforcement partners came together to halt this dangerous conspiracy,” said Brig. Gen. Terry Bullard, commander of the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations, in a written statement.