Three people, including two who worked at the National Center for Toxicological Research near the Pine Bluff Arsenal, have pleaded guilty to stealing approximately $400,000 in government property and selling some of it on eBay and Facebook.

Three people, including two who worked at the National Center for Toxicological Research near the Pine Bluff Arsenal, have pleaded guilty to stealing approximately $400,000 in government property and selling some of it on eBay and Facebook.


Lee Ann Branch and Kyle Matthew Branch, both of White Hall, and Travis Love Donald of Sherwood entered the pleas in federal district court in Little Rock in late November, and will be sentenced after a pre-sentencing investigation is completed. Each could receive up to 10 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine or both, followed by three years of supervised probation.


In addition, the three agreed to make restitution to NCTR of $248,535.51.


According to the court documents, the property was being transferred to NCTR from the shutdown of the chemical weapons stockpile at the Arsenal.


The case began in March when military authorities in Maryland contacted the FBI after receiving information that high-value equipment from the Arsenal was being sold, according to probable-cause affidavits prepared by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Investigator John Bean.


In April, Greg Thomasson, the project manager for the company responsible for the shutdown, URS Inc., told FBI agents that the company had transferred more than $1 million in property to NCTR, and said he had been informed by a former employee that one of his co-workers had responded to an ad on eBay for an "iron worker."


Thomasson said he believed that an item like that had been sent to NCTR in or around July 2012. The site was called "its_gotta_go_now," which investigators determined belonged to Kyle Branch.


Thomasson was shown a list of items available for sale on the eBay site and said the majority of those items were similar to items that had been transferred to NCTR. He reviewed transfer paperwork and found numerous items appearing to be Arsenal property that had been sent to NCTR on the list.


The investigation determined that Lee Ann Branch was the point of contact at NCTR for processing, procurement and delivery of the government material from the Arsenal.


Bean said in the affidavit that on April 2, an FBI agent received information from a confidential source that Kyle Branch was selling property that had previously belonged to the Arsenal, and it was also determined that Lee Ann Branch was Kyle’s wife. The informant also said Kyle Branch had rented a storage unit at White Hall and was selling items out of that unit. In addition, he was selling items on Facebook on a site called "Grown Mans Swap Shop."


The same day, the agent interviewed Ted Howard, employee and manager of the property warehouse for URS Inc., and he confirmed that NCTR had acquired a lot of property from the company, and identified Lee Ann Branch as the representative of NCTR. Howard told the agent that Lee Ann Branch would arrive at the warehouse in a box truck alone on many occasions and Kyle Branch accompanied Lee Ann Branch numerous times when viewing items in the warehouse.


Later in April, an undercover FBI employee used an established undercover Facebook account to contact Kyle Branch and arranged to purchase two Snap-On tool boxes that Branch was selling. The undercover employee met with Kyle Branch at Branch’s residence in White Hall where the informant bought the tool boxes for $500. The meeting was recorded on audio and video.


FBI Special Agent Boyd Boshears contacted the Arsenal and confirmed that the serial numbers of the tool boxes matched the serial numbers of property transferred to NCTR, and also confirmed that Lee Ann Branch had signed the document transferring the boxes.


In May, Boshears again met with Howard after an item appeared on eBay showing three Motorola handheld radios that were for sale, and Howard was able to compare the serial numbers of the radios, which appeared in the ad, with property that had been transferred to NCTR. The serial numbers matched


A day later, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Investigator bought two handheld radios on eBay, and a day later, received the radios by mail. The package indicated that the radios had been sent from Branch’s address in White Hall.


Both Kyle and Lee Ann Branch were interviewed by FBI and Jefferson County Sheriff’s Investigators and both admitted that they had been taking property that had been transferred to NCTR and selling it. Kyle Branch also told investigators that Donald had helped them with transporting and storing some of the property at Donald’s residence in Sherwood.


When Donald was interviewed, he admitted having government property at his house.