Ex-Green Beret admits to scheme to take government cash

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former U.S. Army Green Beret has pleaded guilty to his role in a conspiracy to steal money from the government that was meant to support the armed forces' mission in Afghanistan, prosecutors said.

The Raleigh-based U.S. Attorney's office said in a news release that William Todd Chamberlain, 46, pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and receiving stolen government property. When he's sentenced at a later date, he'll face as many as 15 years in prison.

Prosecutors said Chamberlain and four other members of the 3rd Special Forces Group based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina stole about $200,000 while deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. The news release said that the five soldiers had access to government funds that included money to purchase operational items not available through normal supply systems, money for humanitarian purposes and money for counter-terrorism operations.

“Our office stands committed to routing out public corruption. Chamberlain and his teammates abused the unique trust bestowed upon them by the military as members of the Special Forces,” U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon said in a statement.

The indictment said that the soldiers converted some of the cash into money orders, sent it to family in the mail or brought it with them to the U.S. at the end of the deployment.

“They either claimed falsely winning the cash gambling or bringing the cash with them from the United States when deployed," the news release said.

The four other soldiers involved in the case pleaded guilty in 2014.

Prosecutors said that Chamberlain was the non-commissioned officer in charge and the engineer for the team. Prosecutors said that “three of his teammates would have testified that they handed him large sums of U.S. currency and saw him at the post office purchasing postal money orders.”

Authorities said the crime was especially serious because it took place during a deployment to a war zone.

"Theft of U.S. government funds in a war zone is a serious crime that weakens our national objectives in Afghanistan,” John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said in a statement.

An attorney for Chamberlain didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday.