Rian Patterson, 23, and Devin Diggs, 20, were stationed at Fort Drum when they burglarized a firearms dealer in Gouvernuer, New York, on Sept. 14, 2019, and De Kalb Junction, New York, on Sept. 29, 2019.
The pair pleaded guilty in federal court this week to federal firearms charges.
A third soldier, Tyrease Kimmons, 20, pleaded guilty in December to receiving the stolen firearms at his offsite housing in connection with the burglaries.
The three men are no longer in the Army, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
Patterson and Diggs stole five guns, three rifles and two shotguns from Bowman’s Gun Shop in Gouvernuer at about 1:20 a.m. Security cameras captured video footage of two masked people with gloves breaking into the rear entrance to the shop, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office statement.
In the second incident, they stole five handguns from Graham’s Guns in De Kalb at about 1:10 a.m. Similar video footage was captured, again showing two masked persons, wearing gloves, breaking into the front door of the shop and taking the guns.
A witness told police that they saw two people flee the store through neighboring yards and then heard what sounded like a vehicle start and leave the area.
A local detective used information from the New York license plate reader system, which collected images of a dark-colored sedan with New York plates. It was recorded traveling northbound on State Route 11 in the Gouverneur area at about 12:43 a.m.. The same vehicle was spotted by the system going southbound on the same route near De Kalb at about 1:25 a.m.
Records found that the vehicle was registered to Diggs.
At about 5:20 a.m. on Oct. 1, Sgt. Clinton Vaugh was conducting a room inspection of the barracks unrelated to the burglaries, according to court documents.
Vaugh was conducting the health and welfare check for contraband on orders from company commander Capt. Jeff Thondique due to “recent drug activity within the unit,” according to court documents.
While searching multiple barracks rooms, Vaugh found two pistols in Patterson’s computer desk.
Later that day an ATF agent interviewed Patterson, who admitted to planning and committing the two burglaries.
He told investigators that he, Diggs and Kimmons planned the burglaries. Kimmons did Internet searches to find good gun shops as targets. Diggs drove Patterson to the shops and the pair then carried out the burglaries.
The duo stole the guns and took them to Kimmons’ home. Patterson kept the Charles Daley Model 301 .410 gauge shotgun for himself and brought it back to the barracks from the first burglary along with two of the pistols from the second.
Diggs and Kimmons kept the remaining firearms, he told investigators.
Military police then interviewed Diggs, who told them the same account, adding that he had taken one of the rifles to his barracks room.
Police then interviewed Kimmons, who told investigators he’d talked with Diggs and Patterson about the burglaries but didn’t help plan them.
He said the pair later came to his Evans Mills, New York, residence in the early morning hours of Sept. 14, 2019, and he allowed them to store the firearms and some ammunition at his home.
They again came to his residence early on Sept. 29, he said in court documents, and the pair gave him a pistol.
Kimmons told investigators the items were still at his home. During a search he pointed to black, military-style duffel bag with “DIGGS” on the outside. He said that Diggs had brought the bag to his house on Sept. 29 but he denied that he knew what the contents were.
Patterson and Diggs face maximum penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years supervised release. Both have received recommendations for lower sentences by prosecutors as part of their guilty plea.
They are scheduled for sentencing on June 16. Kimmons is scheduled for sentencing on April 21.