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Archive for Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ex-soldier pleads guilty in conspiracy to steal Army insulin

February 26, 2005

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— A man who worked as a pharmacy technician while a soldier at Fort Riley pleaded guilty to leading a multistate conspiracy to steal Army medical supplies worth about $2 million.

Ronald A. Ausberry, 27, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, U.S. Atty. Eric Melgren said Friday. The plea, entered on Tuesday, made Ausberry the fifth person to acknowledge his guilt in the case involving stolen insulin. Five other defendants await trial.

At the same hearing, Ausberry's wife, Sabrina Ausberry, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of concealing the crime for failing to report to the Army or civilian law enforcement officers that her husband and others were stealing and selling the medical supplies.

The Ausberrys, of Petersburg, Va., will be sentenced on May 12. Ronald Ausberry could get five years in prison on each count, and his wife could get three years.

According to court documents, Ausberry began stealing insulin, insulin strips and other pharmaceuticals in December 2001 while he was an Army specialist fourth class working at Fort Riley as a pharmacy technician.

The government said that early the next year people who contacted Ausberry on the Internet said they would buy insulin and insulin test strips, and that he then recruited others to steal supplies from Army pharmacies at Fort Riley, Fort Knox, Ky., Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, Fort Gordon, Ga., and Fort Polk, La.

According to the documents, stolen pharmaceuticals were sent to Ausberry, who repackaged them and shipped them to buyers in Florida, Pennsylvania and other states. The government said that when Ausberry learned in late 2002 that he was being transferred to Fort Lee, Va., he recruited a friend in Tucson, Ariz., to assume his rule in the scheme.

Ausberry's take that year was approximately $1.1 million, the government said.

But Jim Cross, a spokesman for Melgren, said Ausberry's friend in Arizona got additional money. In all, Cross said, the operation Ausberry set up defrauded the military of about $2 million.

There were no charges against the Tucson man, named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the case. Cross could not disclose details about that man.

Ausberry has since been kicked out of the Army, Cross said.

The stolen insulin was not stored or shipped in a temperature-controlled environment, but the government said it was not aware of any harm caused to people who bought it.

Guilty pleas were entered last month by three other defendants, John W. Cooper, Donna Cooper and Max Thomas, and early this month by Eric A. Hernandez. They will be sentenced in April.

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