RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Richmond man pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing a truck that contained President Barack Obama‘s audio equipment and other trappings of the office, including presidential seals and a podium.
Eric Brown, 49, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney, who scheduled sentencing for April 11. The recommended sentence under a plea agreement with the government is seven years.
Brown could have been sentenced to up to 10 years and fined up to $250,000 if he was convicted at trial of the charge, theft of government property.
The 2005 van, owned by the Defense Information Systems Agency, was stolen from a suburban Richmond hotel on Oct. 15, 2011, ahead of a visit several days later by Obama who was to begin a three-day bus tour of Virginia and North Carolina to promote his jobs plan. The van, empty of its contents, was recovered the next day on the other side of town.
While the theft sparked speculation about whether the presidential equipment was specifically targeted, an FBI affidavit later suggested it was part of a series of thefts.
Brown apparently did not know the van contained the presidential equipment, which also included speakers, a microphone, a U.S. and presidential flag and a laptop computer. Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request put the value of the stolen equipment at $150,000.
Brown became a suspect after surveillance video at the hotel showed a sport utility vehicle that was registered to the defendant’s wife. Investigators also obtained cellphone records showing Brown was near the truck at the time it was stolen, according to the FBI.
The link to Brown and the thefts was supported by witnesses who said they saw him in possession of the laptop.
Brown transported the equipment to a public storage locker in Hyattsville, Md., less than a week after the theft, and some of the equipment was later recovered at pawn shops at two locations in Maryland.
The government and Brown’s attorney, David R. Lett, declined to comment after the brief plea hearing.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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