PHILADELPHIA -- The government is trying to track down more than 150 people suspected of selling hundreds of pieces of stolen military body armor over the Internet, investigators said yesterday.
The outer tactical vests, or OTVs, and protective inserts designed to make the vests more bulletproof, were stolen from the military and sold on
Government investigators launched a sting to make purchases on the Internet auction site, and have identified suspected sellers in 33 states, US Attorney Patrick L. Meehan said.
Bradley said some suspects sold the vests and inserts to the families of soldiers headed for Iraq, exploiting fears raised by reports last October that nearly one-quarter of American troops in Iraq lacked ceramic-plate body armor.
The investigators have identified 157 suspected sellers and charged seven suspects so far. In one case, Marine Staff Sergeant Marvin Funiestas, 26, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., was found with more than 100 pieces of stolen body armor. He was convicted in a court martial and sentenced last week to 10 years in prison on charges of conspiracy, wrongfully selling government property, and larceny.
Bradley and Meehan said eBay officials helped investigators track down the sellers and buyers, and was not facing any charges.