Former Department of Defense Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Financial Assistance Funds Intended for Service Members

WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)—May 19, 2011. A former civilian employee of the Department of Defense pleaded guilty today in Columbus, Ga., to conversion of Army Emergency Relief (AER) funds while he was employed at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of Korea, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.       

Tyrone L. Ellis, 56, of Columbus, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia to one count of conversion.   Ellis was charged in an indictment returned on Oct. 27, 2010, and unsealed following his arrest on Nov. 3, 2010.   

The AER is a private, non-profit organization that serves as the emergency financial assistance organization for the U.S. Army. AER’s operations are financed by voluntary contributions from active and retired soldiers during an annual fund raising campaign, as well as by unsolicited contributions, repayment of outstanding loans and income from reserve funds.         

As part of his guilty plea, Ellis admitted that he worked as an Assistant Army Emergency Relief Officer at Camp Humphreys in 2005 and 2006.   During that time period, Ellis was tasked with providing AER loans and grants to service members and their families in financial need.   Ellis admitted that he approved grants for a dozen soldiers that were greater than the amounts they needed, and that he requested and received approximately $9,250 back from the grant recipients, which he converted to his own use.   Ellis also admitted making false statements to investigators in 2006 when questioned about the allegations. 

At sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 25, 2011, Ellis faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys John P. Pearson and Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and U.S. Army Audit Agency.