Military Vehicles, June 1997,: [MV] Fort McCoy trial part II

[MV] Fort McCoy trial part II
Wed, 4 Jun 1997 07:46:42 -0400 (EDT)

Participants in Fort McCoy equipment thefts testify
5 defendants on trial, accused in conspiracy to take vehicles off base
By Kevin Murphy
Special to the Journal Sentinel
June 4, 1997
Madison -- Two participants in the largest known theft of military equipment
from a U.S.
military base testified in federal court Tuesday how they helped remove 153
vehicles from Ft.
McCoy between September 1994 and May 1996.
Testimony from a former Fort McCoy official, who has plead guilty in the
case, and a Defense
Department undercover agent took up most of the second day of the trial of
five men accused of
conspiracy to steal $13 million worth of military and commercial vehicles,
some of which they
allegedly resold.
The five defendants, Grant Kruger, 43, of Maplewood, Minn.; Dennis Lambert,
53, of Black River
Falls; George Pretty, 59, of Sturgis, Mich.; David Butler, 44, of Fairfield,
Iowa; and Loyd Pilgrim,
37, of Amery, are accused of either advertising, selling, taking bribes or
trucking the vehicles to
sell them, according to a 12-count indictment.
Donald E. Crandall Jr., of rural Sparta, the base's former artillery range
safety officer, testified that
he met a military surplus dealer who initially wanted to remove Sherman tanks
used as target
practice in training exercises.
Crandall said Anthony Piatz, 37, of Hudson, offered to haul off the World War
II-era tanks,
refurbish and trade them to the Center of Military History for other military
The plan intrigued Crandall because he had been ordered to clear used targets
from the banks of
the La Crosse River that flowed through the base.
Piatz's demands for all kinds of equipment at the base increased after the
range was scoured for
Shermans, Crandall said. Equipment from a downsized military operation had
been pouring
into the base, and although Crandall was not authorized to release any
material to Piatz, both
men sensed an opportunity. In exchange for a $30,000 bribe from Piatz,
Crandall prepared phony
documents designed to fool military police that Piatz had permission to
remove the vehicles
from the base, Crandall testified.
In March, Crandall gave similar testimony at Piatz's theft and bribery trial.
Crandall previously
pleaded guilty to similar charges. Both men are to be sentenced in July.
A Defense Department undercover agent, sent to the Army training base near
Tomah to
investigate allegations of vehicle theft, testified that Piatz ended up
hiring him to improve the
documents Crandall first fabricated.
Hal Strickland, Defense Department special agent, testified that he gave
Crandall a $6,000 bribe in
the summer of 1995, as Strickland helped line up buyers across the country
for Fort McCoy
surplus vehicles.
The trial is scheduled through Friday.

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