NASA OIG: Former Deputy Pleads Guilty to Shuttle Theft

Press Release From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2003

On June 13, 2003, Jeffrey D. Arriola, a former Angelina County Deputy Sheriff, pled guilty to stealing debris from the space shuttle Columbia. Arriola admitted that while he was helping locate shuttle wreckage, he illegally pocketed two small pieces of a straight-back type back shell, which is a wiring harness connector on the shuttle.

United States Attorney Matthew D. Orwin praised the cooperative effort of the Angelina County Sheriff's Office and NASA's Office of Inspector General, "This investigation centered on the activities of a law enforcement officer. A deputy sheriff should know better than to take a piece of the shuttle. We expect a high degree of professionalism and integrity from those sworn to uphold the law and Arriola failed the test when that moment came."

Since the pieces have a value of less than $1,000 Arriola has pled guilty to a misdemeanor. Arriola resigned his sheriff's deputy commission after he was indicted. He could face a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

This investigation was conducted by the NASA Office of Inspector General and Angelina County Sheriff's Office. Assistant United States Attorney John Stevens is prosecuting the case.

For more information on this release, please call Joe Kroener, Acting Executive Officer, NASA Office of Inspector General at (202) 358-2558.

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