The former firearms manager at North Carolina Law Enforcement Support Service (LESS) may face up to 15 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing weapons from the United States. LESS loans surplus equipment from the Department of Defense to state and local law enforcement agencies.
An audit of the NCLESS’s holdings revealed missing weapons in 2009, triggering the investigation that ended in 55-year-old Brian Minish’s arrest. Upon questioning, Minish allegedly sent investigators on “a wild goose chase across [North Carolina]” for the missing weapons. He attempted to cover his tracks by mailing weapons to his office purportedly as returns from a sheriff’s office in the state.
Minish was actually keeping several of the weapons at his home and had sold $30,000 worth of DOD loaner equipment on eBay. He was also the President of the Kerr Lake Volunteer Fire Department and stored several weapons and gear there. Minish reportedly sold some of the equipment that he stole from NCLESS to his fellow volunteer firefighters in Kerr Lake.
Investigators say they traced closed to $55,000 of missing NCLESS equipment to Minish. They discovered gun safes, goggles, spotting scopes, gun cleaning kits and other weaponry were missing. Officers searched Minish’s home as part of the investigation and seized detonation cards, a personal laptop, tax records, ammunition, weapon parts and other items considered evidence in the federal theft crimes case.
Minish will be sentenced for the federal theft crimes in August.
Source: WRAL, “Ex-state worker pleads guilty to stealing surplus military weapons,” April 30, 2013