Va. man charged in scheme to steal, sell State Department vehicles

Image 1 of 5

A Northern Virginia man is facing up to five years in prison after he admitted to taking part in a conspiracy to steal and sell more than a dozen state department vehicles.

Court documents say the scheme involved the U.S. State Department's protective equipment and armored vehicle division. James Ratcliffe, 67, of Fairfax Station, Va., admitted to stealing and selling 13 vehicles for more than a half a million dollars.

The government says it uncovered the scheme with the help of the FBI and the inspector general.

According to a court document filed in the case, Ratcliffe managed the car collision center in Springfield where the state department would bring it's vehicles to be repaired.

Sometime beginning in 2011 the document says Ratcliffe and person B, who is not identified by name, conspired to sell tires and unarmored state department vehicles "and split the proceeds of the vehicles sales." The document also says person B gave Ratcliffe two Suburbans that Ratcliffe kept at his business or home. The Suburbans used by the state department retail at more than $48,000 each.

Government prosecutors say Ratcliffe sold the vehicles to customers who were told Ratcliffe had acquired them at auto auctions. The value of the property that Ratcliffe misappropriated through the schemes was at least $512,420. Person B is also identified in the court documents as the person responsible for the record keeping of the vehicles.

It's unclear when this scheme was uncovered but the documents say the scheme went on from 2011 to 2013. Along with the 12 Suburbans, a hummer was taken as well.

None of the vehicles were armored.