USNA Mid sentenced for stealing lab equipment By Brian Witte - The Associated Press Posted : Thursday Mar 4, 2010 18:00:33 EST ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A military judge sentenced a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman to one year in the brig on Thursday for stealing about $28,000 worth of electronic lab equipment from the academy and selling it on eBay. Midshipman Thomas Hayes, a senior electrical engineering major, pleaded guilty to larceny and loss or destruction of government property. At a court-martial on the academy’s grounds, Hayes told a military judge that he was trying to help his mother, who was having financial difficulties that included a home foreclosure. He said his mother regularly made frantic phone calls to him, and he said she was suicidal. “I intend to repay it back with every cent I make,” Hayes, of South Glens Falls, N.Y., told Capt. Bruce MacKenzie, the judge. Although Hayes highlighted financial stresses on his family, prosecutors said he still managed to own a car and take a trip to Jamaica. Prosecutors also said he could have taken out a loan or sought work. MacKenzie sentenced Hayes to three years imprisonment with two years of the sentence suspended. He dismissed Hayes from the Navy and ordered him to forfeit pay. He also ordered Hayes to pay $28,000 in restitution. The academy issued a statement saying, “If he has no disciplinary actions while in the brig, he is eligible to be released after 12 months under the plea agreement.” According to military prosecutors, Hayes, 26, stole high-end lab equipment that is used in electrical engineering courses. Once he got an offer on eBay, he would enter the classroom by himself and put the equipment in a bag, taking it back to his dorm room to package for shipping in 10 separate thefts between October 2008 and February 2009. Although the total value of the equipment stolen was estimated to be $28,000, Hayes sold the equipment at steep discounts, only netting about $14,000. For example, he sold a generator valued about $2,000 for $850. “That’s quite a deal, isn’t it?” MacKenzie said to Hayes while underscoring the big price difference. Christopher Anderson, an assistant professor of electrical engineering, testified that the loss of the equipment has had an impact on classes because students need the items to work on projects. “There’s definitely more sharing,” Anderson said. Anderson also said the equipment hasn’t been replaced because of a budget shortfall. Gerald Ballman, the lab manager, testified that the items were small and easily transportable. The academy has installed cameras inside classrooms in the building at a cost of about $6,000 to prevent future theft, Ballman said. Haynes came to the academy after having enlisted as a nuclear submariner. The case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.