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Sergeant pleads guilty, sentenced to 6 years

by Airman 1st Class Andrea Thacker
Thunderbolt editor

An Air Force staff sergeant will spend six years in confinement, be demoted to the grade of airman basic and be dishonorably discharged for stealing four laptop computers and two personal data assistants from United States Central Command last year.

A military judge on Thursday sentenced Staff Sgt. Sheridan Ferrell II to seven years on two charges of larceny and two charges of dereliction of duty. Her sentence was reduced to six years because Ferrell had a pre-trial agreement with prosecutors in exchange for his guilty plea. The sentence is subject to approval from the convening authority, which is the 21st Air Force commander.

Ferrell pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing four laptops and two PDAs containing sensitive information from CENTCOM last summer. An additional charge of stealing a computer hard drive was dropped in exchange for his guilty plea. Ferrell was assigned to CENTCOM, the headquarters for the war on terrorism, when the computers and PDAs disappeared from a secure room between June 13 and Aug. 9.

When two computers were noticed missing Aug. 2, security at MacDill Air Force Base clamped down and more than 50 agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations swarmed over the base in the largest investigation in MacDill's history.

A week after the laptops disappeared, the investigation led OSI agents to Ferrell's residence, where they discovered the missing computers and two additional laptop computers taken from the Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility at CENTCOM. They also discovered the two PDAs.

The 174 days Ferrell served while awaiting court-martial will be subtracted from his six year sentence.




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