Crime

Ex-Army Sniper Association treasurer stole money from widows fund, judge says

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Smaller businesses are hit particularly hard when it comes to wire fraud.

A veteran who once served as treasurer of the Army Sniper Association based in Columbus is headed to federal prison after pleading guilty to converting thousands of dollars in organization funds to his own personal use.

On Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Judge Clay Land sentenced Dustin Campbell to 15 months in prison for one count of wire fraud, based on his diverting the money from a Columbus bank to accounts he set up in Tennessee, where he was living.

Some of the money was intended to aid the families of snipers killed in combat, authorities said.

According to his July 2018 indictment, Campbell in 2015 was treasurer of the charitable organization, which is registered in Columbus with an Auburn Avenue mailing address. Until April of that year, all association business was conducted through a Columbus Bank & Trust account.

That changed on April 21, 2015, when Campbell was living in Dandridge, Tenn., and opened an account at the Bank of America in Knoxville, Tenn., under the name “Army Sniper Association, Dustin Campbell, Treasurer,” giving himself sole authority over it.

At the same time, he opened three more accounts for the Army Sniper Association at the Tennessee Bank of America, the indictment says.

From then until Oct. 27, 2016, Campbell deposited association funds into the account he had established in his name, and with a Georgia check card used association money for personal expenses such as meals, transportation and cash withdrawals from bank machines.

The indictment says he took about $43,000 in association funds, but during Campbell’s sentencing Tuesday, Land ordered him to pay exactly $38,107.20 in restitution.

Some of the money Campbell diverted came from the association’s “Fallen Snipers Fund” to help the families of those killed in battle.

Land said the sentencing range for Campbell’s one count of wire fraud was 12 to 18 months in prison, so the judge split the difference.

Campbell’s attorney, Jennifer Curry, told Land that Campbell suffered from a mental illness that affected his judgment. That did not excuse his conduct, she said, but she asked that he be allowed to work to repay what he stole.

Campbell had two tours of combat during his 10 years of service, before he was medically discharged, and he had no prior criminal history, she said.

She told Land 15 months was too long a sentence.

“This case is not a case where someone made a single mistake,” the judge replied, noting Campbell wasn’t a bank teller who only once skimmed some cash from work.

Campbell took $38,000 over a span of months, knowing some was money that “widows of his fellow snipers would be deprived of when they needed those funds,” Land said. “His sentence of 15 months is entirely appropriate.”

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