A 27-year Navy veteran was sentenced to four years in federal prison for running a racket which saw him steal $2.7 million from the federal government to feed a high-stakes poker lifestyle.
But it wasn’t all gambling for Lt. Randolph Prince: the 45-year old also blew some of the stolen cash on luxury vehicles and a second home. Where Prince was splashing poker pots so copiously has not been made public.
It’s a shame that he squandered an otherwise outstanding 27-year Naval career,” lawyer Shawn Cline told the Virginia Pilot Newspaper of his client. “He suffered from a terrible gambling addiction and abused a position of trust to fuel that addiction.”
In August, Prince pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and falsifying a tax statement.
Stealing nearly three million bucks from the federal government takes a special kind of heist, and it’s one that Price was uniquely positioned to pull off.
The Virginia Beach man worked in the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit, where he had the authority to purchase military equipment for his command. But instead of having all the goods delivered to his unit or a legitimate business, he would run them through bogus companies set up by himself and two accomplices.
According to the Department of Justice, the trio would create fraudulent invoices showing that the equipment had been received, and then pocket the money sent by the Navy to cover the transaction.
“The greed underpinning Prince’s activities is shocking, and his actions were impressively calculated,” Assistant US Attorney David Layne told the Pilot.
His accomplices in the scam were Lt. J.G. Courtney Cloman and Clayton Pressley III. The latter is said to have pocketed $650,000 from the fraud and was sentenced to two years. Cloman will be sentenced on February 7.
Prince — who was the mastermind behind it all — has also been ordered to pay back the $2.7 million he stole.
An Army of Slots
While the addictive behavior displayed by Prince may have been extreme, gambling issues run deep in the US military, and it seems the organization itself may be enabling the problem.
In 2015, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ordered a report on the gambling addiction issues surrounding US servicemen after discovering that the Department of Defense operates 3,000 slot machines on its military bases. For reference, that’s about twice as many as Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas operates.
Those military machines generate annual revenues of $100 million per year.
Multiple studies have shown that soldiers are at a higher risk of gambling issues than the average person, with one study from the National Council on Problem Gambling revealing that some 36,000 active members are problem gamblers.
In August of 2018, President Trump signed off on the $717 billion National Defense Authorization Act. The act contains measures that, for the first time in American history, will have military personnel screened for gambling disorders.
Dishonorable Discharge: Navy Officer Swipes $2.7M From Government for High Stakes Poker Habit, Gets Four YearsJanuary 12, 2019