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Fuel thieves ordered to pay $16.7 million in restitution

Justice comes with a big price tag for a group of ex-military types who sold 10 million gallons of U.S. fuel on the black market in Iraq.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton imposed a four-year sentence and a $66,500 forfeiture Friday for a former Navy officer convicted of helping to steal the fuel from a U.S. Army base in Iraq.

The government claimed Robert Jeffrey and others pretended to be U.S. contractors and repeatedly filled up their fuel trucks at the depot, selling the fuel on the black market.  The stolen fuel was worth around $40 million, according to a published report.

“I’m curious where all the money went,” said Judge Gerald Lee at a co-defendant’s hearing in April.  Friday, Hilton ordered Jeffrey to pay $16, 757, 673, jointly and severally with his co-conspirators, according to a Justice Department news release .

A spokesman said, to date, the convicted conspirators have repaid $545,000.  One of the fuel thieves reportedly had $450,000 in a Lebanese bank account.

By Peter Vieth

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