In plea, theft and lies visible
Robert Brian Minish, a 57-year-old Henderson man who once wrote on Facebook he was a “grandpa living large in Vance County,” could face a 15-year prison sentence.
Minish pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft of property belonging to the United States and to making false statements. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 5 and could include up to 15 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $500,000 fine.
Minish appeared before Judge Terrence W. Boyle Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
Minish’s Facebook page also said he volunteered for “Vance County Fire & EMS as a firefighter and Emergency Medical Responder.”
According to a statement from Thomas Walker, a U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Minish was aware several firearms were in his possession illegally, were improperly stored at Law Enforcement Support Services where he worked, and netted him thousands on eBay.
LESS is a division of the N.C. Department of Public Safety.
LESS, which is not authorized to possess weapons, facilitated the transfer of U.S. Department of Defense surplus property to state and local law enforcement agencies. Minish was Firearms Program Director, and coordinated the transfer of the weapons.
A 2009 audit showed improper maintenance of records by Minish. Dozens of firearms were unaccounted. Hundreds were being improperly stored at LESS headquarters in Raleigh, according to Walker’s statement.
During the investigation, Minish said no firearms were at LESS and none had ever been stored there. Investigators say he knew hundreds, including automatic firearms, were there at the time and in his personal possession.
According to Walker’s statement, Minish misled the probe to various state law enforcement agencies. Some of those contacted reported having sent missing firearms directly to Minish.
The investigation also showed Minish went to a Mebane post office and mailed a package of six missing firearms to himself, saying they came from the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office in another attempt to thwart the probe.
Minish was also accused of stealing gun safes, tool bins, spectacle kits/goggles, M49 spotting scopes, encrypted radios, Aimpoint rifle scopes and gun cleaning kits.
Between August 2008 and September 2010, Minish made more than $30,000 on eBay via stolen Department of Defense property.
Walker’s statement indicated the investigation involved the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Logistics Agency, the Office of Inspector General, the State Bureau of Investigation, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.