Fort Totten soldier sold government goods: U.S. attorney

A 30−year−old Army Reserve sergeant who was stationed at Fort Totten in Bayside has been accused of ordering electronics and supplies through a discount government purchasing program and then selling some of them online.
By Nathan Duke

An active−duty Army Reserve sergeant who was stationed at Bayside’s Fort Totten has been charged with stealing government property after he allegedly ordered more than $200,000 worth of electronics and supplies through a government purchasing program and then sold half of the items in eBay auctions, the U.S. attorney for New York’s Eastern District said.

Joseph Copeland, 30, who lives in the Bronx but works at Fort Totten in Bayside, was arrested after he allegedly ordered items totaling $207,766 through a government purchasing program from November 2006 to the present, U.S. Attorney Benton Campbell said.

Among the goods he ordered were iPods, computers, plasma television sets, a queen−sized mattress pad, audio systems, a lock−pick set, more than 30 computer printers, Microsoft digital music players and laptops, according to the criminal complaint.

An estimated $107,699 worth of the goods ordered were “not actually used for official government purposes at Fort Totten,” the U.S. attorney said.

Copeland, who could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, is accused of holding 53 auctions for the items, which netted him a total of $29,342, according to the complaint. Customers on eBay allegedly paid him $21,122 for goods sold during 34 auctions, Campbell said.

The defendant is alleged to have held the auctions through the eBay user name “copelandjoseph23.” He was arrested after a Colorado man to whom he had allegedly sold three Hewlett−Packard printers in May 2008 contacted the authorities.

The program through which Copeland is alleged to have purchased the items enables authorized employees of federal agencies to purchase products for official government use at discounted prices.

The U.S. attorney’s office estimated the cost to the U.S. Army from the goods sold during the auctions at $41,214.

The defendant, a sergeant in the Army Reserves, has been serving on active duty at Fort Totten since March 2008.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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