Arrest made in theft of presidential equipment - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Arrest made in theft of presidential equipment

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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -

Federal prosecutors have charged a man with stealing thousands of dollars of government equipment, including the president's TelePrompTer, podium, audio equipment and a Department of Defense computer last year.

A criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday details the charges filed against Eric Brown on October 15. In it the FBI lays out how a cooperative source led them to Brown, told of an alleged confession and pointed them towards the stolen equipment and laptop.

Days before President Obama was scheduled to visit Chesterfield in October 2011, a truck filled with equipment for the event was stolen from the Virginia Center Commons Courtyard Marriott. The equipment was valued at $200,000, and also included several presidential seals. The stolen truck was later recovered in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express near Richmond International Airport.

In the criminal complaint, an FBI agent investigating a car theft ring in the Richmond area used surveillance video from several area hotels to determine that the suspects were using a small black sedan and a dark colored two-toned GMC Yukon to steal commercial trucks parked on hotel parking lots. Investigators later were able to show those vehicles were registered to Brown's wife. Cell phone records also showed Brown's cell phone was used in the area of the Courtyard Marriott around the time of the thefts.

A Defense Information Systems Agency spokesperson at the time said "No classified or sensitive information was in the vehicle.  We take incidents such as this very seriously and a formal investigation is continuing."

However, a cooperating source told FBI agents Brown had a Department of Defense laptop and sold it to an associate. The source also said he confronted Brown about the stolen truck and was told by Brown, "Man, I got that truck. I don't do no playing," which the source felt was a confession. The source also said he saw Brown with several storage tubs with the presidential seal on them.

The person who reportedly bought the stolen laptop was able to identify Brown. He also showed the computer to law enforcement, who confirmed the serial number matched the stolen laptop.

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