Army CID agents are investigating the theft of approximately 130 tons of nickel ball bearings from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, Army Times has confirmed.
A recently-unsealed federal search warrant requested by CID special agent Lucas Coulter offers details about the alleged crime. Army Times accessed the warrant request via public court records.
CID’s investigation began in late March after a source told investigators that an Army civilian employee, Randolph Brady, “illegally removed metals owned by the Department of the Army in order to recycle them for a profit,” Coulter said in the warrant.
Coulter said the ball bearings were worth approximately $2 million, although court records show that their scrapping netted only $1 million.
The Albuquerque Journal first reported the search warrant, which Coulter requested on Aug. 2.
Brady ran the survivability, vulnerability and assessment directorate at White Sands.
Installation spokesperson Scott Stearns told Army Times he could not comment on the investigation, but he confirmed Brady’s former title and that he “is no longer employed at White Sands Missile Range or within the Army Test and Evaluation Command.”
Brady has not yet been charged with a crime, court records show, but Coulter said Brady “conspired to commit wrongful appropriation of government property, since at least on or before August 2020″ in addition to the alleged theft itself.
Brady did not immediately respond to questions from Army Times sent through social media.
According to Coulter’s warrant application, Brady worked with local scrap and hauling companies to “remove four tanks containing nickel ball bearings from the Large Blast Thermal Simulator...facility” and recycle them for profit.
Each of the four tanks contained approximately 58,000 pounds of 3/8 inch nickel ball-bearings, Coulter said.
The “Large Blast Thermal Simulator” is used to simulate the heat and shockwave effects of both nuclear and conventional explosions, according to the White Sands website.
Coulter said that there had not been a contract solicited or awarded for the removal of the ball bearings, as Army and federal rules require.
The warrant authorized Coulter to seize more than $1.1 million from a bank account held by the construction company that coordinated the removal and recycling of the ball bearings. The account received a check and five transfers from the scrap recycling company that totaled $1 million, Coulter said.
CID executed the search warrant on August 9, court records indicate.
It was not clear from court documents how much, if any, of the recycling proceeds were going to be sent to Brady and other unnamed people involved in the alleged conspiracy.
The owner of the construction company denied wrongdoing when reached by the Albuquerque Journal last week, saying that the metal “wasn’t stolen.”
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.