Former Fairchild Airman Sentenced for Possession of Stolen Ammunition

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Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that John I. Sanger, 31, of Rigby, Idaho, was sentenced after pleading guilty to Possession of Stolen Ammunition. United States District Judge Thomas O. Rice imposed a sentence of 24 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release.

According to court documents and information provided at sentencing, in August of 2021, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) opened an investigation into Sanger, based on information Sanger was associated with two social media accounts − “awakened cascadian” and “problematicpatriot.” Sanger had used these accounts to discuss committing acts of violence to advance a political agenda. In December of 2020, Sanger used the “problematic pariot” account to call for the violent seizure of the U.S. Capitol building, stating, “They defrauded our election system and are still getting away with it. That means the system has run it’s course. People have to die.”

During the investigation, an Undercover Officer met with Sanger and discussed issues involving minorities, opposition to vaccines, and targeting of critical infrastructure. Specifically, the Undercover Officer and Sanger discussed targeting the Spokane County Public Health building and COVID-19 testing sites using a Molotov cocktail.

In March of 2022, Sanger told the Undercover Officer that multiple Air Force members stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane were stealing ammunition from the Air Force and shooting the ammunition, which was paid for by taxpayers, for personal use. Sanger told the Undercover Officer that he was receiving stolen ammunition from another Air Force member, Staff Sergeant Nathan Richards, of the Fairchild 92nd Security Forces Squadron Combat Arms Training Management (CATM) section. Members of this section are trained in firearms and had access to ammunition.  

On March 12th, 2022, Sanger, the Undercover Officer, Richards and Staff Sergeant Eric Eagleton, who also was a member of CATM, met to go target shooting at Fishtrap Lake. While at the range, Richards retrieved a plastic bag with hundreds of rounds of loose, green tip 5.56 M855 rounds and gave it to Sanger. Richards said that members of CATM would falsify records so that it appeared the stolen ammunition had been expended in the course of Air Force duties.  After Sanger and others finished shooting, Sanger gave the Undercover Officer some of the stolen ammo Sanger received from Richards.

In April of 2022, Agents observed Sanger and Eagleton meet in the parking lot of the Northern Quest Resort and Casino. The agents observed Eagleton give Sanger a military-style ammunition can containing stolen ammunition. Following that meeting, Sanger sent the Undercover Officer text messages with photographs showing the stolen ammunition he had been given by Eagleton. A few days after the meeting, the UC and Sanger went to the Fishtrap shooting range and shot about 250 rounds of stolen ammunition.

Later that month, The Undercover Officer and Sanger met at the Undercover Officer’s RV. During the meeting, the Undercover Officer handed Sanger an unregistered gun suppressor Sanger had previously paid the Undercover Officer to buy for him.  When Sanger exited the RV, he was arrested by the FBI and OSI special agents. Sanger was still in possession of the suppressor.

At the time Sanger was placed under arrest, the FBI and OSI special agents executed a series of search warrants at Sanger’s home. Agents located several firearms, firearm parts, empty firearm magazines and ammunition. They also found numerous patches, stickers, and paraphernalia associated with white supremacy and the neo-Nazi movement.

“Theft from the military is an affront to honorable men and women who dedicate their lives to government and military service in order to keep America safe and strong. I will not tolerate any abuse of trust by those charged to protect our great country,” stated U.S Attorney Waldref. “I applaud the tireless work and dedication of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and our Federal Prosecutors in bringing Mr. Sanger to justice.”

“Like all who served the United States, Mr. Sanger took an oath when he enlisted in the military,” said Richard A. Collodi, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Seattle field office. “His actions violated that oath, and he violated the trust imparted to him by the American people. I am proud of the work of our investigators and partners to quickly bring an end to Mr. Sanger’s conduct before his violent rhetoric turned into action.”

The case was investigated by the FBI’s Seattle Field Office, Inland Northwest Joint Terrorism Task Force (“INJTTF”), and the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

This case was prosecuted by Patrick J. Cashman, Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington.

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