U.S. Navy Officer Defrauded Navy to Pay for High Stakes Poker Games

At some point you just have to accept your losses and move on. But not everyone does that and that’s when they get into trouble. Such was the case for Naval Lieutenant Randolph Prince, who received a sentence of more than four years in prison last week for his role in defrauding the United States Navy in part to fund a high stakes poker habit.

It was a classic scam: Prince and his friends setup sham companies which “sold” things to the Navy. Those items, “inert training aids,” or fake bombs, never existed and of course never reached the hands of anyone in the Navy. The United States Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said that Prince was the key to the operation as he “had the authority to make purchase requests for military equipment on behalf of his command, and also had the ability to sign for goods when a company delivered them to his unit on the back end.”

press release from the USAO continued, describing the scheme:

Prince took advantage of his position to direct purchases to the sham companies, which had been opened for the sole purpose of receiving government contracts from Prince. When a contract landed on the desk of one of these companies, Prince, and others, would generate fraudulent documentation to suggest the company had honored its end of the bargain. With this documentation in hand, the Navy would then pay the company. However, the sham companies never provided the Navy with anything at all. Instead, they distributed the Navy money amongst Prince and his associates.

In all, Prince and friends bilked about $2.7 million from the Navy. The scheme was allegedly concocted to fuel a high stakes poker habit as well as buy luxury vehicles (because of course no criminal can keep a low profile).

In August 2018, Prince pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making a false statement on his 2014 tax return. Lt. j.g. Courtney Cloman and Clayton Pressley III, Prince’s partners in crime, also pleaded guilty. Pressley had already been sentenced to two years in prison. Cloman’s sentencing is set for next month.

From an article in the Virginian-Pilot, it sounds like Prince’s attorney, Shawn Cline, readily admitted that his client was guilty, but tried to convince the court that he wasn’t the ringleader. U.S. Attorney David Layne didn’t buy it.

“It’s a shame that he squandered an otherwise outstanding 27-year Naval career,” Cine told the Virginian-Pilot in an e-mail. “He suffered from a terrible gambling addiction and abused a position of trust to fuel that addiction.”

“When his time in service is remembered, it won’t be for the fact that he rose from the lowest enlisted ranks to the grade of Lieutenant, or that he served in a dangerous war zone in direct combat when his nation needed him most. It will be the events of this sentencing hearing that are his legacy,” Cline added. “Rather than being something with which he can look back on with pride, he will spend the rest of his life hoping that the people with whom he interacts are not aware of the time he spent serving in the Navy.”

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