Raleigh, N.C. — A former state employee pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing surplus military weapons, authorities said.
Robert Brian Minish, 57, of Henderson, pleaded guilty to theft of property belonging to the United States. He will be sentenced in August, when he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Minish worked for Law Enforcement Support Services, a division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and coordinated the transfer of surplus weapons from the Department of Defense to state and local law enforcement agencies, authorities said.
A 2009 audit of LESS records showed that dozens of firearms weren't accounted for and hundreds more, including some automatic weapons, were improperly stored at the agency's Raleigh offices, authorities said.
Minish repeatedly lied to investigators about the missing guns, some of which were in his possession, and sent federal agents on a goose-chase across the state trying to hunt down the weapons, authorities said.
Authorities said Minish even mailed a package filled with guns to LESS offices in June 2010, purporting that the Alamance County Sheriff's Office was returning six loaned weapons, authorities said.
Investigators determined that Minish also stole other surplus property that LESS was supposed to loan to law enforcement agencies, including gun safes, tool bins, goggles, spotting scopes, encrypted radios and gun cleaning kits.
He sold more than $30,000 in the surplus property on eBay between August 2008 and September 2010, authorities said.