Local News

Henderson man suspected in military equipment theft

Posted March 18, 2011

— Military investigators this week searched the home of a Henderson man who they believe stole weapons and other items on loan to North Carolina law enforcement agencies and sold some of the equipment on eBay.

Robert Brian Minish, 55, was the firearms manager at North Carolina Law Enforcement Support Services until last June, according to a search warrant application by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. NCLESS coordinates transfers of surplus Department of Defense property, including weapons and vehicles, to law enforcement agencies statewide.

No charges have been filed against Minish, whom NCIS agents began investigating last May after a random audit found numerous firearms provided to NCLESS were missing, according to federal court documents. Minish provided inconsistent statements to investigators before finally producing some of the weapons, documents state.

Acting on a tip from a former NCLESS employee, investigators found that Minish had sold numerous items on eBay, including night vision equipment, gun sights and parts for trench guns, since 2005, according to court documents. Although Minish told investigators that he had bought the items on eBay or at flea markets and was simply reselling them at higher prices, investigators found the serial numbers of the items matched those that the military had loaned to NCLESS, documents state.

Investigators also determined that Minish stored numerous military items at the Kerr Lake Volunteer Fire Department, where he served as president. Vance County took control of the fire department last July, and the county fire marshal said the Kerr Lake fire station looked like the junkyard in the 1970s television series "Sanford and Son," court documents state.

Robert Minish, suspected in military weapons theft Henderson man suspected in military equipment theft

Firefighters told investigators that they recalled seeing Minish use state-owned trucks to haul items from Raleigh to the Kerr Lake fire station. They said Minish told them he had bought the items from NCLESS, and he sold some to members of the department. NCIS agents searched the firehouse in September and found several items, including a tool chest from Camp Lejeune, that matched items loaned to NCLESS, according to court documents.

Investigators conducted a full audit of military firearms loaned to North Carolina law enforcement agencies and found that 30 were missing, including M14 and M16 assault rifles, court documents state. In addition to the weapons, investigators said they traced $54,700 in missing military equipment to Minish.

During a Monday evening search of Minish's house on Mabry Mill Road, NCIS agents seized weapons parts, ammunition, detonation cords, storage bins, tax records, laptop computers, computer hard drives and other items, according to a search warrant.

Minish, who is on leave as a volunteer firefighter with Vance County, couldn't be reached Friday for comment. Family members declined to comment.

Both state and federal investigators also declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.


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  • bear2010 Mar 21, 2011


  • Keyboard Toughy Mar 18, 2011

    "When you work(ed) for law enforcement you are privileged and you only have to obey a subset of laws than ordinary civilians have to obey." - LocalYokel

    Hmmm. Finding any reason to bash LE? He wasn't employed by nor worked for any LE agency. Your theory is the same as saying McDonalds employees are privileged and only have to obey a subset of laws because some McDonalds employee somewhere sold an on-duty cop a burger. If anything he worked for a divsion of the federal government, or at a minimum, he was managed by the federal government. There could be a number of reasons he has yet to be charged, most reasonable involves his 6th Amendment Rights and attempting to recover the property. Study up on the 6th Amendment, combine it with recovering the property, and then re-post a comment. I'm sure getting military grade weapons off the street is much more of a priority than arresting someone they can arrest at anytime.

  • nanasix Mar 18, 2011

    Chances are he'll get more time than the Sheriff and his deputies got from Carteret County...guess this man wasn't a member of the Good ole Boys Club.

  • howdiditgettothis Mar 18, 2011

    Sounds like he's got an overblown sense of entitlement.

    I hope he gets more than a slap on the wrist.

    Seems to me that someone in his life should have been suspicious of something......whether another family member, or neighbor, or someone at the fire department.

    Also - goes to show there needs to be more scrutiny regarding use of "work" vehicles, and oversight of jobs, etc. Sounds like he spent a lot of time on his job handling illegal business.

  • josep4567 Mar 18, 2011


  • keneds Mar 18, 2011

    WHY would a fire dept ever ever let a President turn their fire station into a junk yard...not saying the fire dept is involved just wondering where is their pride in neatness...wouldnt go over very well in out dept

  • ifcdirector Mar 18, 2011

    Sounds like he was extremely greedy and abusive of the public trust. This guy is also an insult to the many volunteer firemen who risk their lives to protect and save others. I hope they make an example of him.

  • RWS Mar 18, 2011

    Just goes to show you all public safety personnel can be crooked, not just cops.

  • BE Mar 18, 2011

    As soon as I saw his picture, I associated him with a fire dept. That is not providing a good service to the thousands of firemen in this state, paid and volunteer, who do their jobs every day to protect the citizens and property in their community and NEVER break the law. As a 37 year veteran of the fire service I am offended by what WRAL has portrayed. The only link to the fire service here is that this man used his position with a fire dept for what appears to be illegal purposes (storing items that may not have been his), there is no mention that the fire department itself was involved. WRAL, you can do better and should.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Mar 18, 2011

    @storage, he's also giving old white males a bad rap. Oh, and blue-tooth nerds...He's giving us a bad name too.

    Maybe WRAL should just put in a cartoon smiley face? ;-)