Car Shop Manager Pleads Guilty to Taking Government Suburbans
Investigation Cites Inadequate Safeguards for Decommissioning Vehicles
The Chevrolet Suburban is not only a favorite of soccer moms and black car services, but also of the U.S. Government. At nearly any official state event, the hulking, fullsize SUVs move in a somber convoy, shuttling diplomats and dignitaries. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security owns approximately 4,500 vehicles worldwide, with many of them in the Middle East. At the end of their service lives, the vehicles are supposed to be destroyed for security purposes. However, at least a dozen vehicles, mostly Suburbans—but also a Hummer and a container load of wheels and tires—made their way to a repair shop in Virginia.
According to a Bloomberg report, a government official diverted the vehicles to the repair shop in exchange for kickbacks from the shop owner. The shop owner pleaded guilty to theft of government property, agreed to $416,020 in restitution, and could face up to five years in prison. The typical sentence for a crime of this magnitude is 24 months or less. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Inspector General worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to uncover the scheme. As part of the investigation, investigators found that contract workers decommissioning official state vehicles overseas were using tools such as blowtorches without adequate safety equipment.