Army specialist from Fountain indicted in scheme that allowed Afghan trucks to steal fuel from bases

Stephanie Charboneau was assigned to FOB Fenty

WASHINGTON - A former Army specialist from Fountain, Colo., was indicted this week in a scheme to steal fuel from Afghanistan and launder the money in America.

Stephanie Charboneau, who is also known as Stephanie Shankel, 34, had conspired with her supervisor and a civilian employee to allow an Afghan trucking company to steal truckloads of fuel from the base, according to an indictment returned April 9.

Charboneau was assigned to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Fenty, in eastern Afghanistan, as part of the 704th Brigade Support Battalion.

Her duties included overseeing the movement of fuel by private Afghan trucking companies from FOB Fenty to nearby military bases.

The three conspirators allegedly authorized the movement of truckloads of fuel from FOB Fenty -- ostensibly to nearby bases -- knowing and intending that when the fuel left FOB Fenty it would never reach the designated base and would instead be stolen.

These events occurred from approximately February 2010 through approximately May 2010, according to the indictment.

When Charboneau returned to the United States, the indictment alleges she laundered the money from the bribes to avoid having to report it.

She bought a car for $33,179 in cash through a $5,000 down payment, two $9,900 cashier's checks that were in the name of two acquaintances, and an $8,379 cashier's check in her name, the indictment said.

Charboneau was charged with conspiracy, bribery, theft, money laundering and structuring. If convicted, she faces penalties of 20 years in prison for money laundering, 15 for bribery, 10 for theft of government property, and five for conspiracy and structuring. She also faces fines of $250,000 per count.

Charboneau's supervisor,  Sgt. Christopher Weaver,  and Jonathan Hightower, the civilian, have each pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy scheme and are awaiting sentencing.