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He got it one piece at a time …

And it didn’t cost him a dime. The words of a 1976 novelty song by Johnny Cash come to mind in the case of a Navy officer accused of building his own airplane from parts he ordered through his Navy job.

Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Lee Tappen has pleaded guilty to filing a false report and has admitted to spending about $74,000 of taxpayers’ money for items he kept for himself.

When investigators looked through Tappen’s house and hangar in California, they found tools, parts and a partially completed Velocity airplane. A former Navy pilot, Tappen has a degree in aerospace engineering.

The Virginian-Pilot reports Tappen allegedly ordered the tools, airplane parts and other items while he was stationed at a Navy SEALS base in Norfolk. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced next year in Norfolk federal court.

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