Jessica Elaintrell Smith pled guilty to her involvement in stealing over $2 million worth of military equipment from Fort Hood in June of 2021.
Smith and Brandon Brown, a civilian working at the Texas base, used bolt cutters to break into 17 storage containers and take combat gear.
Smith took a plea deal and admitted her role in the scheme to law enforcement.
Brown allegedly approached Smith in March of 2021 and asked her to help him steal the equipment. Brown planned to have a third man, Nathan Nichols, sell the items online, according to court documents.
Nichols has pled guilty to a conspiracy to commit theft of government property charge in March of 2022. He will be sentenced on June 21.
On the night of June 16, Smith and Brown reportedly stole three PEQ-15 laser range finders, 57 PAS-13 thermal scopes, four PVS-13 night vision scopes, and 10 PVS-7 night vision goggles. Investigators value the equipment at $2,176,000 in total.
Smith was able to use her status as a disabled Army veteran to gain access to the base. The 29-year-old had served at Fort Hood prior to her 2016 discharge. Brown had been discharged from the Army in 2019 and was given access to the base through his work as a contractor.
The next day, the pair transported the items about 260 miles to Corpus Christi and gave the gear to Nichols, who listed the items on eBay.
While searching Nichols’s home in July, investigators recovered approximately $1,119,240 worth of stolen gear, per Military.com.
Brown has also pleaded not guilty to the charges brought against him.
“Brown and Smith each face up to five years in prison and maximum fines of $250,000 if found guilty of conspiracy to commit theft of government property,” reports Army Times.
Smith had previously been charged in 2014 with theft in Bell County. She was an active duty service member at the time and was sentenced to 10 years probation. Her case was reopened by the county in 2020 after she was charged with felony family assault, thereby violating her probation.
Stars and Stripes notes Smith deployed to Afghanistan the same month and served six years in total. She has received the Army Good Conduct Medal and two Army Commendation Medals.
Smith’s trial is scheduled to take place in the spring of 2023.