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Stolen from Fort Hood, sold on eBay | Army veteran sentenced for role in theft of $2.1 in military equipment

Jessica Elaintrell Smith was ordered to pay $1.3 million back to the government for stealing Fort Hood military gear.
Credit: Killeen Police Department
Jessica Elaintrell Smith 2013 mugshot

FORT HOOD, Texas — Jessica Elaintrell Smith, 30, was sentenced Tuesday for her involvement in the 2021 theft of $2.1 million dollars worth of Fort Hood military gear, according to court documents

Smith has been incarcerated at the Aransas County Detention Center in Rockport since her arrest in September 2021.

Smith, along with Nathan Nichols and Brandon Dominic Brown, were accused of stealing 68 PAS-13 scopes, 47 RT 1523 radios, nine AN-PSC 5 radios, four PVS-14 scopes, three-night vision devices, three AN/PRC 117 radios, two receiver/transmitters and one AN-VRC-90 radio.

According to a criminal complaint, the equipment was stolen the night of June 16, 2021 and in the early morning hours of June 17.

Just twelve days later, on June 29, the complaint says an agent with the US Army Criminal Investigation Division found the items for sale on eBay.

During a court hearing Tuesday, Smith was sentenced to 18 months by U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton. Her sentencing will also follow two years of probation. Smith will also have to pay the U.S. Army $1.3 million plus $100 in restitution.

According to court documents, the investigation began after soldiers who were in charge of inventory of army equipment in Fort Hood noticed the locks on 17 Conex containers had been cut.

The lead investigator was able to identify the seller as Nathan Nichols in Corpus Christi, according to the complaint. His profile included photos of sold military gear which displayed serial numbers that matched several items stolen.

A search warrant for Nichol's home was provided to Homeland Security in July 2021. 

During the search, investigators found more than $1.23 million in US currency and stolen military gear. They also found a phone that had conversations between Smith and Nichols dating back to March 2021, according to the complaint.

Veteran, Brandon Dominic Brown, told Smith he had access to U.S. Army property at Fort Hood. Smith told Brown about Nichols who would eventually purchase and then sell the stolen items, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, Smith and Brown are Army veterans which gave them access to inventory. It also says they both formerly worked as contractors on Fort Hood. 

The complaint says surveillance video shows the veterans entering Fort Hood through an access gate on June 16 around 11:08 p.m. and 11:42 p.m. 

Police were able to use cellphone records to prove that Smith then traveled to Nichol's home in Corpus Christi right after the theft.

Both Smith and Brown were arrested back in September 2021 for their involvement, according to court documents. 

Brown pleaded not guilty in November 2021. His trial is set for Sept. 6, 2022. 

Nichols pleaded guilty in 2021 and will be sentenced in October. He will also be required to pay restitution. 

Smith was also arrested in Killeen in 2013. According to Killeen records, she was involved in a robbery at the Game Exchange.

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