[MV] Fort mcCoy thefts

Sun, 14 Dec 1997 07:59:49 -0500 (EST)

Last of 5 defendants in thefts at Fort McCoy gets prison
By Kevin Murphy
Special to the Journal Sentinel
December 12, 1997
Madison -- A Minnesota man who advertised and titled some of the 153 military
vehicles stolen
from Fort McCoy was sentenced Thursday to 33 months in prison.
Grant Kruger, 43, of Maplewood, Minn., was the last of five co-defendants to
be sentenced in what
authorities have called the largest theft ever of vehicles from the military.

Kruger continued to maintain his innocence Thursday, as he had throughout the
eight-day jury
trial earlier this year in federal court. He has insisted that his
co-conspirators kept him in the dark
about illegally removing the vehicles from the base in western Wisconsin
between August 1995
and June 1996.
"As God as my witness, I didn't know that Tony (Piatz) bribed Captain
(Donald) Crandall or
conspired to defraud the government. I believed Crandall had the authority to
release the
vehicles," he said.
In asking for leniency, Kruger's attorney said his client is known to friends
and family as the
"world's biggest boy scout."
District Judge Barbara B. Crabb said she had expected the jury to acquit him
but added she also
believed they had enough evidence to convict him.
However, she refused to believe that Kruger did not know that Leo A. Piatz
Jr., the conspiracy's
organizer, had illegally obtained vehicles that included missile launchers, a
Vietnam-era tank
and a self-propelled howitzer.
Kruger gave documents that Crandall, a former base employee, doctored to
apparently legitimize
Piatz's taking of the surplus military and commercial vehicles, said
Assistant U.S. Attorney
Daniel Bach.
Kruger also had several vehicles titled through the state Department of Motor
Vehicles and
advertised some in national publications.
Crabb also made Kruger responsible, along with his co-defendants, for
$687,084 in restitution to
the U.S. Army.

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