“Money won is twice as sweet as money earned,” Paul Newman says in “The Color of Money.”
Unfortunately for one Navy officer based in Virginia Beach, he neither won nor earned the $2.7 million he stole from the government to fund a lavish life of high-stakes poker, flashy cars and a second home — and Fat Leonard wasn’t even involved.
Lt. Randolph Prince, 45, was sentenced to more than four years behind bars for swindling the exorbitant sum by directing his unit’s supply contracts for “inert training aides” to fictitious companies run by his accomplices, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“It’s a shame that he squandered an otherwise outstanding 27-year Naval career,” Prince’s defense attorney Shawn Cline told the Virginian-Pilot. “He suffered from a terrible gambling addiction and abused a position of trust to fuel that addiction.”
Lt. j.g. Courtney Cloman, a flight officer, and Clayton Pressley III, a former sailor and Bronze Star recipient, assisted Prince in the scheme.
A member of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training and Evaluation Unit 2, Prince would make purchase requests for military equipment on behalf of his command, the DoJ release said, and would sign off on receiving the products once they were delivered.
When the Navy’s requests would land on the desks of the spurious companies run by Prince and his associates, they would produce fraudulent documentation to show the contract had been accepted.
The Navy, however, would never receive any of the agreed upon products, and the money was instead divvied up between Cloman, Pressley and Prince, who pleaded guilty in August to charges of wire fraud and falsifying a 2014 tax statement.
Pressley was already serving time behind bars for identity theft as part of a separate case when he was doled out a two-year sentence for his role in Prince’s money-grabbing plot, one that netted him nearly $650,000.
Cloman, meanwhile, will be sentenced Feb. 7.
Prince’s Navy career dates back to 1991, when he enlisted as an 18-year-old. He spent the next 17 years on the Navy’s enlisted side before receiving a commission in 2008. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2012.
“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," Cline told the Pilot.
"It will be the events of this sentencing hearing that are his legacy. 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.”
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.