Three civilian workers pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday for their role in a scheme to sell $1.5 million worth of shaving supplies stolen from a Marine Corps supply store.
Beaufort residents Orlando Byson, 35, Tommie Harrison Jr., 27, and Sarah Brutus, 36, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
The three told U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks in Charleston they schemed with a noncommissioned Marine Corps officer to sell the razors and razor blades to out-of-state third parties.
All three, who are out on bail, were indicted in October and will be sentenced at a later date.
Each faces up to five years in prison, $250,000 in fines and three years of supervised release, said Rhett DeHart, assistant U.S. attorney.
Initially, Byson and Harrison each faced a felony count of theft of government property, but the charge is expected to be dropped as part of the plea agreement upon sentencing, DeHart said.
Meanwhile, the officer involved, 1st Sgt. Lascelles Chambers — a Marine for the past two decades — is being prosecuted by military authorities at Parris Island.
He is expected to be tried in April, federal prosecutors said, adding that Chambers received the bulk of the proceeds from the scheme.
Every week, Harrison and Byson — careful to avoid store surveillance cameras — would lift razors from the store and deliver the items to Chambers in person.
When Chambers was transferred to a new post at the 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company in West Palm Beach, Fla., they would send him packages in the mail, authorities said.
At that point, Chambers would sell the items in other states. The operation started in January 2017 and lasted through June 2018, prosecutors said.
The operation, based out of the Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot, was one that offered the possibility of a fruitful payday for the confessed conspirators since razor blades cost more than $2 each.
Annually, some 17,000 recruits come through the depot for boot camp.
"This is one of the largest theft of government property cases in the history of the district," DeHart told the judge.