Tag Archives: OSI

Air Force Vet Wakes Up in Federal Prison on Veterans Day

WASHINGTON, November 12, 2014–Decorated 20-year Air Force veteran and former firearms instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, Timothy Arnold, woke up this Veterans Day in federal prison. Arnold was convicted earlier this year in a civilian court in Brunswick, Georgia, of manufacturing firearms and embezzlement—charges Arnold and many of his colleagues openly dispute. Active duty Office of Special Investigations (OSI) agents filed numerous complaints with the Inspector General (IG) regarding lead investigator Wendell Palmer’s “unethical” practices while building the case against Arnold. The information about the affidavits and the pending IG investigation was withheld from the court, in direct violation of the Supreme Court’s Brady doctrine requiring prosecutor Fred Kramer to disclose it. Additionally, the testimony of the defense’s star witness was prevented by unsubstantiated allegations of his contempt of court—testimony the would-be witness claims would have exonerated Arnold.

Thanks to exclusive reports filed earlier on BenSwann, Arnold’s case is receiving national attention and is the subject of an official Congressional Inquiry into its handling. Those with knowledge about the case continue to come forward, outraged that this prosecutorial tragedy happened at all, much less to a man they consistently describe as “honest to a fault” and “full of integrity.”

Tim Arnold served his country for 20 years and executed many top secret missions. Now he serves time in prison.
Tim Arnold served his country for 20 years and executed many top secret missions. Now he serves time in prison.

Before Arnold self-surrendered to the United States Penitentiary that currently holds him, he addressed several mischaracterizations made during the trial. Assistant United States Attorney Kramer accused Arnold of purchasing “stenciled golf balls” and other items “he and his friends thought were cool” using the government-issued credit card. “Yes, I bought golf balls! I also bought custom pins, pens, lighters, coffee cups, and shot glasses with the OSI insignia on them,” Arnold says, “That is what is known as swag. It is customary to give small tokens like these to visiting dignitaries, foreign agents attending training, and those you need to thank while on out-of-country assignments. In keeping with OSI regulations, I turned the swag over to the Commodities Custodian and would then ‘sign it out’ as needed.” Arnold said he was the recipient of such swag from the White Houses of both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. He says small gestures like these are traditional throughout the military.

Kramer accused Arnold of impersonating a law enforcement officer. Arnold says he used the AFOSI-issued badge and credentials provided to him, as he had done for years. He also willingly surrendered the badges to investigators for examination. The prosecution claimed Arnold wore various patches and pretended to be in different branches of the military. “I did wear different shirts depending upon what scenario I set up for my firearms and tactics classes,” Arnold said after the trial. “I never ran around town claiming to be an Army Ranger, a Marine sniper, or anything else.” Another detail not revealed in the trial was that during Arnold’s Air Force career, he was actually part of an elite Air Mobility Command. The jury heard a different story, however. “He’s a poser. He’s a fraud,” Kramer told them. “This is a man with no honor in him.”

Arnold refused to plead guilty to any of the charges during pre-trial negotiations and proceeded with a costly trial in order to clear his name. OSI agents who testified for the defense were shocked that a case with falsified evidence at the hands of who they believe to be an unethical fellow investigator sailed all the way through the legal system. Those who signed affidavits complaining about Palmer’s tactics are currently following up on them via every channel available. The Congressional inquiry is active. Arnold himself expects his record to be expunged once the truth is revealed. His last words before entering prison were, “I have only begun to fight.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Air Force Veteran and Firearms Expert Convicted of Manufacturing Weapons Speaks Out

Exclusive: Air Force Vet/Firearms Expert Sentenced to Prison

 

 

Exclusive: Air Force Vet/Firearms Expert Sentenced to Prison

 

Arnold's Air Force service record was spotless. He was considered one of the military's best marksmen and one of the Air Force's best firearms instructors.
Tim Arnold served his country for 20 years and executed many top secret missions. Now he must serve time in prison.

WASHINGTON, October 10, 2014–Former firearms instructor and decorated Air Force veteran Timothy Arnold stood for sentencing before Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood on October 9, 2014 at the United States District Court of Southern Georgia. Arnold received a sentence of 22 months behind bars and a fine of $168,000 for what many people close to the case believe is the result of a highly unethical investigation without merit.

Advised to not speak in his own defense at the trial, Arnold gave this statement at his Thursday morning sentencing, “I think it is very obvious how much I love this country. During my 20 years in the military, I was given missions and tasks that I did not agree with, but I did them. I do not agree with this guilty verdict, but I believe in this country. I will continue to do the same thing I have always done, and that is live with integrity. Preserving my reputation and my honor means more to me than it probably does to the average person. Now that I have lost my cherished Second Amendment rights, I have also lost the way I make my living. I must focus on protecting and providing for my wife and our little daughter…” Arnold choked up, unable to finish his statement.

Tim Arnold served his country for 20 years and executed many top secret missions. Now he must serve time in prison.
Arnold’s Air Force service record was spotless. He was considered one of the military’s best marksmen and one of the Air Force’s best firearms instructors.

As previously reported on BenSwann.com, Arnold’s charges included conversion (embezzlement,) manufacturing firearms, and illegally dealing firearms. According to multiple affidavits by other agents and witnesses, lead investigator Special Agent Wendell Palmer assembled no true elements of crime but broke multiple Air Force Policy Directives. Most damaging to Arnold’s case were the gross misrepresentations the witnesses say Palmer applied to their unsigned statements used during the trial. Palmer also confiscated personal firearms, records, and other property without providing a receipt. When his superior, Colonel Kristine Blackwell, was asked to intervene, she reportedly turned her back and laughed.

Alarmed by this “less than professional” investigation, many fellow agents and members of law enforcement interviewed by Palmer registered official complaints with the Air Force Inspector General (IG) before Arnold’s case went to trial. This information was not disclosed to the judge or the jury. It is unclear whether or not the IG has responded to the complaints of its OSI agents by opening an investigation of its own. One complaint stated, “I am extremely concerned for what I believe to be a misstatement of facts, improper evidence accounting procedures, and unsubstantiated allegations.”

Palmer declared to multiple witnesses during interviews that he believed Arnold was manufacturing fully automatic and silenced weapons and abusing the government credit card to do so. “I did not feel this information was correct, and felt it was inappropriate for Palmer to make such a statement during an ongoing investigation,” said a fellow agent. Another complainant said, “Upon reading Palmer’s documentation of my interview, I wish I had insisted on doing so (providing a written statement) as he took significant liberty with information I provided and did not account for important details I made sure to convey.” In simple terms, it appears Arnold was framed—but for a crime that didn’t exist.

A Congressional inquiry into this matter was originally requested through Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-GA) office in 2011, but it was Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) who actually opened one this year.

Arnold has 30 days to report to the Bureau of Prisons and begin his sentence. Congress has 30 days to get something done about it.

EXCLUSIVE: Air Force Vet/Firearms Expert Convicted of Manufacturing Weapons Speaks Out

Arnold's Air Force service record was spotless. He was considered one of the military's best marksmen and one of the Air Force's best firearms instructors.
Arnold’s Air Force service record was spotless. He was considered one of the military’s best marksmen and one of the Air Force’s best firearms instructors.

WASHINGTON, October 6, 2014–Decorated Air Force veteran and firearms expert Timothy Arnold was convicted in the United States District Court of Southern Georgia on January 21 of manufacturing and dealing in firearms without a license, transporting illegally-acquired firearms to a state in which he did not reside, dealing firearms across state lines without a license, and theft of government property by conversion. The prosecution, led by Assistant United States Attorney Fred Kramer, claimed Arnold was running a “black market operation” while he was a well-known firearms instructor with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Brunswick, Georgia. FLETC is part of the Department of Homeland Security and trains law enforcement officers for 91 federal agencies, including the U.S. Park Police and U.S. Marshals Service.

Tim Arnold instructs a class at FLETC
Tim Arnold instructs a class at FLETC

Arnold was employed as Chief of Firearms and Tactics for AFOSI while serving the last few years of his twenty-year career in the Air Force. Upon his retirement in 2009, the Air Force requested that he remain in his position in a civilian capacity and continue to perform all of his duties—tactical instruction, course development, equipment purchasing, and an extensive travel schedule. His activities and purchases were overseen and approved by his direct superiors on a monthly basis, as they had been for years. One thing that did change frequently, however, was the identity of his bosses. Turnover was routine and each department head arrived with very different ideas regarding the nature of their position. Arnold was known for having high expectations for his FLETC students and high standards for his training curriculum. Many witnesses in his trial testified that his training certainly saved lives during operations overseas. They said he was one of the best firearms instructors in the Air Force. Arnold prided himself on creating realistic scenes using costumes and props to simulate real-life scenarios that protective services agents might face in the field. His job required him to buy civilian equipment for those classes—and his superiors pressured him at the end of every fiscal year to spend all remaining funds of his operating budget, that sometimes totaled $120,000. This is common practice in federal agencies whose directors fear a surplus will cut their Congressional funding for future years.

Arnold demonstrates how to provide aid to a wounded victim by placing pressure on a wound site while engaging an active threat.
During the “Bullets and Bandages” class at the Sig Sauer Academy, Instructor Tim Arnold demonstrates how to provide aid to a wounded victim by placing pressure on a wound site while engaging an active threat. Photo Credit: FirelanceMedia.com

Firearms were not just Arnold’s profession, they were also his lifelong hobby. His expertise garnered countless unsolicited requests from co-workers, members of law enforcement, friends, and family to assemble guns for them. Most of the time, he would advise them as to what parts they should order and then Arnold would assemble them into a working firearm—as a favor or for a trade. “The investigators were not able to find a trail of money from me profiting from my supposed firearms business,” Tim Arnold says, “Because I never made any money off of it. I never claimed to be a business or advertise. I did it for fun and as a favor to people in my life.” However, a jury in a civilian court found Arnold guilty of illegally manufacturing and dealing firearms. Of note, the legal definition of manufacturing implies objects are created from raw material. What Arnold did, and what many other gun enthusiasts in this country do, is actually firearms assembly, a legal endeavor. A few months before the AFOSI investigation into Arnold’s activities began, he was busy working on customizing an AR-15 platform rifle to replace the outdated MP-5 sub-machine guns that protective service officers currently use in the field. “Obtaining new parts to service those military weapons is nearly impossible,” Arnold says, “And a weapon with more maneuverability in tight quarters would reduce training time, as well as cost of replacement parts, saving the Air Force money.” Arnold’s prototype made its way to a training in New Jersey where it was mistaken for an illegal weapon. A review of the investigation itself reads like a comedy of errors, which makes Arnold’s conviction all the more surprising. Lead investigator Special Agent Wendell Palmer directly violated countless Air Force Policy Directives, including the interrogation of a subordinate as part of a criminal investigation, which is a conflict of interests; failing to read Arnold his rights during any of the interrogation sessions; ghostwriting statements from Arnold and all other witnesses; and failure to provide receipts for property, firearms, and records seized from Arnold, other witnesses, and even the Sig Sauer Academy in New Hampshire where Arnold worked as an adjunct instructor while on administrative leave.

Executive Director Adam Painchaud Instructs a Class at the Sig Sauer Academy
Executive Director Adam Painchaud Instructs a Class at the Sig Sauer Academy

Sig Sauer Academy Executive Director Adam Painchaud, also an AFOSI Special Agent, initiated a complaint against Palmer to the Air Force Office of Inspector General. Six witnesses signed separate affidavits detailing accounts of Palmer’s unethical conduct, including the Witness Statements riddled with errors, omissions, and misrepresentations that Palmer wrote himself. Several active OSI Agents offered to provide verbal testimony, afraid of the retaliation that a paper trail might bring. During the trial, Painchaud was slated to be the star witness for the defense. “I had the ability based on my firsthand, expert knowledge of the matters involved to dispute the charges against Arnold,” says Painchaud. Instead, he was prevented from testifying and Judge Lisa Godbey Wood threatened to charge him with contempt of court due to allegations from the prosecution that he inappropriately questioned another witness in the hallway outside the courtroom. “My testimony would have been instrumental,” Painchaud says, “The jury never got to hear it because I never got to testify. This is not how our system is supposed to work.” Painchaud was later cleared of the contempt allegations, as well as conduct unbecoming of an agent, after a separate investigation by AFOSI revealed his innocence.

Arnold was featured in several Sig Sauer advertisements.
Arnold was featured in several Sig Sauer advertisements.

Despite a Congressional inquiry into the handling of the investigation that resulted in Arnold’s conviction, his sentencing is set for this Thursday, October 9. Arnold faces up to 25 years in prison and a $300,000 fine. UPDATE: http://truthinmedia.com/exclusive-air-force-vetfirearms-expert-sentenced-to-prison/