DOCUMENT: Internet, Investigation, Crime

Feds: Marine Sold Munitions On eBay

Probe target peddled restricted night vision items

Night vision goggles

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Marine eBay Probe

SEPTEMBER 3--A U.S. Marine used eBay to illegally sell dozens of high-tech munitions--some of which he claimed to have found discarded near a dumpster at Camp Pendleton in California--to foreign buyers, transactions that federal investigators allege violated arms export laws covering such “sensitive and classified technologies,” The Smoking Gun has learned.

After a two-year investigation, a federal grand jury has been impaneled to review the activities of Douglas Rubsam, 32, who is suspected of stealing military property worth more than $100,000 and selling it via the online auction site, according to court records.

In an affidavit sworn by a Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) agent, Rubsam is accused of making “at least 42 sales of export-restricted military items to overseas buyers in at least 14 countries, including among others the People’s Republic of China (Hong Kong) and Russia.”

Rubsam allegedly sold “at least five types of export-restricted items,” including components for night vision goggles. According to DCIS Agent John Helsing, Rubsam frequently sold an item known as a Light Interference Filter Assembly (LIF), which “protects the optics inside the night vision goggles from being damaged by enemy lasers.” The LIF incorporates “sensitive and classified technologies that give the U.S. military and certain allies an advantage on the battlefield," Helsing added.

In his affidavit, excerpted here, Helsing estimated, based on a review of eBay and PayPal records, that Rubsam “sold well over 200 LIFs.”

As with the other items sold by Rubsam, the LIFs are on the U.S. Munitions List and cannot legally be exported without a license issued by the Department of State. Control over the LIFs is so tight that when they reach the “end of its service life it must be destroyed completely, and cannot be transferred or re-utilized outside” the Department of Defense. Included in the restricted munitions Rubsam sold on eBay, Helsing reported, was part of an assembly “used to attach a 40mm grenade launcher to a rifle,” and a device “used in connection with the infrared aiming laser on a rifle.”

In an interview today, Rubsam denied stealing the military items he sold on eBay and termed the criminal probe a “personal vendetta” on the part of the lead military investigator. Rubsam, who joined the Marines in early-2005, said that he left the corps last year with an honorable discharge. He is now managing a Virginia marina owned by his wife’s family.

The probe of Rubsam began in March 2008 when DCIS agents received a tip that government property--a LIF--was being sold on eBay. When agents subsequently questioned Rubsam at Camp Pendleton he claimed to have found dozens of LIFs in a “cardboard box…near a dumpster in his unit’s area on Camp Pendleton.” He later gave agents a box--which had “TRASH” written on it with a marker--containing 10 LIFs (but which, according to a Defense Logistics Agency label, originally contained 100 LIFs).

Rubsam acknowledged that “a Marine selling Marine gear” on eBay “looks funny,” but added that investigators had “no proof” of criminality on his part. He added that he had been unaware of export rules covering certain munitions.

Asked why such “sensitive and classified technologies” like the LIFs would be recklessly discarded as he claims, Rubsam said, “You’d be surprised what gets thrown out.” As for why he just did not turn the items over to his superiors, Rubsam said that he simply did not think of doing that.

According to Helsing’s affidavit, filed this week in U.S. District Court, military investigators have probable cause to believe that Rubsam has “engaged in the unlawful export” of munitions, lied to federal agents, and “knowingly engaged in monetary transactions involving criminally derived property.”

The government probe has recently moved into the grand jury phase, with agents seeking to subpoena Rubsam’s father-in-law to testify before that panel. However, when two DCIS agents tried to serve him with papers at his Virginia home in early-May, Rubsam’s 78-year-old relative allegedly pointed a gun at them. He was subsequently arrested and charged with a felony count of “assaulting, resisting, or impeding” government agents. (7 pages)

Comments (25)

It would appear GUNNY doesn't know about export laws: The AECA was passed in 1977, not 2005. The truth is that these laws are very. very complex, and items on the US Munitions Lists are not listed by their proper name, but by broad generic categories. There are also jurisdictional fights between the Department of State which owns the Muniltions List and the Department of Commerce which owns the Commerce Control List. Whereas items on the Munitions List require a license for every place except Canada, whether an item on the Commerce List needs a license depends upon the exact classification and the destination and end-use. Components for infrared related gear is on both lists, and figuring out which list applies often occupies hours of time by lawyers and engineers. Under the statute as worded, a criminal conviction requires proof of specific intent to violate the regulations. A civil penalty of up to $500,000 can be imposed for negligent violations committed without specific intent, but the jury won't be allowed to know that, so a jury will think the criminal case is all or nothing, i.e., that they must convict or the defendant goes scott free, which is just a lie that this Department of Justice cynically uses in order to win convictions against individuals while letting huge corporations get away with multiple violations and pay only civil penalties. Note: Things on the Munitions List include mainly unclassified equipement and technology, but the DoJ and the media always treats these cases as though they involve classified or "sensitive" items. The fact is that the Munitions Lists includes hundreds of items you can buy at a surplus store or gun show, but require a license only if sold or released to any foreign person.
What is odd is I Googled this guys name "Douglas Rubsam" and come up with very little. Also did a Google News search and found one article and that article's source is TSG. So, is this a made-up B.S. story or what?
The military throws away very strange stuff. To err in caution - he should have never have taken anything out of the trash. He should never taken anything and he should never have resold whatever he found. Another sensitive item. Night Vision Equipment. I would never have touched night vision equipment for resale. There have been people investigated for reselling First Generation Russian Night Vision Equipment and Surplus Uniforms that was sold as surplus to them. Another note. Usually there is a signed record of accountability for Night Vision Equipment and Munitions. Whoever ordered and was accountable for said items should be up on charges as well. They should have been disposed of through the usual military disposal methods. DRMO and Demil. The Government is insane. When in doubt - do not do anything that will garner the attention of the Government. If he intentionally stole the items with the intention for profit he is toast.
1. If you think the PRC (among others) isn't interested in the AR coatings on late generation NV optics, you are naive. 2. These NV components are not "classified", they are ITAR restricted. 3. Stealing government property is a crime whether ITAR listed or not, whether being discarded, or not. 4. This guy lied to the feds. 5. If this guy is in a "reserve unit" he can be involuntarily recalled to active duty for the purpose of being investigated or prosecuted under the UCMJ for a crime committed while on active duty. If his MSO is 8 years and he did 4 active duty, then isn't he in IRR for four years, subject to recall for UCMJ? 6. Read the warrant info to the left of the article - this guy booked almost $50K selling military gear on eBay while at Pendleton, and he sold 200 of the LIF's in question. Of all the things this guy did, lying to the feds was perhaps the stupidest. They don't even have to prove he did anything wrong with the NV gear, they just have to prove that he lied to them, and that can get him 5 years right there. There's no parole in the fed system.
"If you think the PRC (among others) isn't interested in the AR coatings on late generation NV optics, you are naive" If you think the Chinese military is not already equipped with these lenses you can not read or have not read Janes Defense (if you do not know what that is then I'll stop right here with you) For those who think the DCIS makes no mistakes do to their impressive looking website I will not tell you what the "D" stands for to most military but the CIS was Clowns In Suits. Fort Knox had a pair called Batman and Robin, we are talking Adam West Batman (sorry Adam). their record was 80/20 percentile wise. 80 percentile trusted what DCIS said or used JAG lawyers and took deals, the other 20% got civilian lawyers and the cases were dropped. I saw a lot of what DCIS claimed and no proof. Nothing new there. Chinese paper drill, throw enough paper at the enlisted men and most will panic and cut a deal and theres another few lines on the DCIS website. Ever see them post the cases they lost or got thrown out of court? The Smoking Gun has done a great disservice by posting DCIS charges, you might as well post some hand written scribbling by some religious not in the Crack, it would be just as accurate and unbiased. Anyone who has had one of his men spend a month of hell getting a Clowns in Suits ranting thrown out of Court could have told you that but most posting here have never meet one of those little tin gods. Some day the Congress will wise up and eliminate them. Crimes in America should be local law enforcement and FBI, save some money , eliminate the DCIS.
I've read Janes for decades. Did you read the sworn warrant request? This guy appears to be dead nuts guilty, whether you care for the DCIS and its methods or not. The facts (which will be established at trial, should the grand jury bring an indictment and the former marine doesn't plead) would appear to indicate that this guy's got a problem regardless of the ITAR status of the items, regardless of whether or not the PRC has our latest AR coating technology, and regardless of who did the investigation. Do you think anybody should get to boost $50,000 worth of government property and sell it on eBay without being held accountable?
The poster RetiredMilitary had it right. It's been a while, but I used to be a night vision repairman for the Army. The LIF served its purpose to keep you from accidentally getting blinded by laser rangefinders ( i wonder what the odds of that happening is). It also made a great disposable lens cover in the inevitable event that it got scratched. Good god, I was trained by the military to work on these things and had no idea that the LIF is restricted hardware. I totally believe that the box this fellow found was marked as trash.
You can't convict him merely on a news article. I really don't think this young man actually knew what he had was illegal much less being that stupid as to put them on Ebay. Nothing has been proven other than the fact the munitions were supposed to be confidential. If he did find these articles in the trash, who put them there in the first place? Chances are, these munitions were obsolete and non usable. Think about this....Our government always sells second rate electronics to foreign countries and keeps the up to date stuff in secret until it's no longer useful.
@willm09 - You may want to check whom you call moron. I never said he shouldn't or couldn't be prosecuted. Nor did I make any mention of where this stuff was or was not when it was stolen. @allknowing - you should change your moniker. Because this article provides no evidence that he did not receive a Honorable Discharge, I will presume that he is in earnest with that statement. If true, he cannot be "reactivated" for any reason what so ever. A discharge means that all of your contractual obligations to Uncle Sam have been fulfilled and since you most likely didn't read the contract he signed you have no idea what his obligations were. What he is alleged to have done is a crime even in the civilian world which is where he should be tried. It happens all the time with defense contractors.
@willm09- Ok Moron and yes you are a moron, first i spent time in the Marines and am in the USAFR. First there are several contracts that you can sign 4-4, 6-2, 5-3, those are years active and inactive reserve and during the time of war (in which we are still in) or if the service requires during that time they can recall you! All inactive is, is that you don't have to report to a command every month but, still the possibility looms of being recalled. Second you water head if you did read the article it did say that the investigation did begin when he was in, the (Real) NCIS or Fed.s didn't have enough evidence to hold him and/or were still determining the bit was thest course of action to prosecute the piece of sh!t! Last as others and i have said regardless it was the Corps. it doesn't matter he knew better they drill that in you head he was 32 he He should be tried and if convicted shot as a traitor! His actions could cost the many lives of others serving in our military!
If he enlisted 2005 received a HD in 2009, he indeed would have 4yrs inactive reserve left in his contract. This would not be a recall situation. That would be national emergencys, but he CAN be recalled. This deal is a federal charge that he selling this gear, which turns out to be more than LIFs, I think they will be cilvillian Federal charges. I do not care what he sold,(or is being sold on Ebay), if it is not something they went down to Cash Sales and purchased with their own money, it is not theirs to sell. One thing we all new when I was active and reserve Marine, was that even unserviseable Military gear did not just get chucked into the trash. their are procedures these items to be destroyed. If this Marine did not know this, his superiors failed him, not to mention lack of common sense that led to greed. So before anybody makes the accusation, yes I have gear that was issued to me that I brought home. I not selling any of it on Ebay or Craiglist. Some of it I still use, such as my flight gear which I would never sell even if I thought it I have a right to sell anything I brought home in my seabag. I hope it works out for him and he can get on with his life. Semper Fi
Anyone who would sell. trade,or allow themselves to be put in a position to be blackmailed,endangering our countries security,and the lives of our most precious men,and women should be put to death.Too many times I have seen traitors who have sold our military"s most highly secret weapons and plans,and get a few years in prison,as if they had done no harm to our country. They are all traitors that should be put before before a firing squad.Some of our own Presidents have freely given secrets to our enemies.(Clinton to China,on missile technology)A traitor has no allegiance to his own country,nor anyone else.!B1QQ-)!Bmk~$(KGrHqIOKj!E)O!,jMT5BMdtIuw8Rg~~_12.JPG The item on the right hand side of the picture would be the "Sensitive and classified technologies" Hmm two years of investigations......... I see DCIS has not changed any, what a shame...... Hmmmm, did I just save DCIS 2 years of investigations to catch this guy in Texas?
We are talking about a filter like this one that is currently for sell on ebay from someone in Texas. People should engage their brain before shooting off their mouth. This link is for the same filter mounted in glasses. It sells for under $10. Sensitive and classified technologies my ass. Having spent over 20 years in combat arms I have no doubt the stuff being sold was thrown away by some unit since all those items really are are dust caps for night vision goggles that have a coating on them that protects the used from being blinded when he gets lased by someone laser range finder by accident. They get scratched up and thrown away all the time. This is really about some idiot who wasted two years of Tax Payer Dollars over throw away dust covers for NVGs. Yeah, there should be someone paying for this "crime" but its not the former soldier.
the Marine Corps failed to teach him, the meaning of SEMPER FI.
He will go down, I saw guys pick trash in the Navy and they got minimum Art.15 and that was for broken tool boxes. What they really need to do is investigate how they got to the trash in the first place.
JUJU, You are the biggest F@cking moron in the world. Maybe you shouldnt be a stupid f#ck and look sh!t up. He can most certaintly be tried for what he did. When your in the military and commit a crime it doesnt matter if your out of the military when your crime comes to light and they want to prosecute you for it. Theres no way in hell that just ends up in a box labeled trash. I was in the army and dealt with stuff like that. He will be tried and convicted. You should do us all a favor and go walk into traffic.
Treason plain & simple. Firing squad!
There's a bunch of LIF's being sold right now on ebay. Look for "Light Interference Filter (LIF) works with PVS or Anvis" in the catagory Electronics > Gadgets > Surveillance > Night Vision Equipment. Item number: 300415740680. The seller is in Denmark. They look like a polarizing or neutral-density filter that you'd clip onto the end of your camera lens. They're being sold for $129.00 each. Light Interference Filter (LIF) Works with PVS-7, PVS-14, PVS-15, PVS-23, BNVD, Anvis-6/9. Protect your NVG's from Visible or invisible lasers, so it won't damage your NVG's.
@RetiredArmy "This clown should be given a General Courts Martial" You seem to have missed this part "Rubsam, who joined the Marines in early-2005, said that he left the corps last year with an honorable discharge." One can't be tried in a military court if one isn't in the military, kangaroo trials for alleged terrorists aside. People like you are patently un-American but run around wrapping yourselves in Old Glory while preening on and on about how you're such a patriot. Hell, I'd be willing to bet you tell family and friends about how we need government to "get back to the Constitution" while simply ignoring the parts of it you don't like. The man hasn't even been been convicted, let alone put on trial yet and you're willing to "squeeze the trigger, or pull the switch" yourself? Big brave man sitting behind your computer. If the guy is indeed guilty, let the evidence prove that in a court of law.
You are a complete moron yes he is out but, BUT he did pick these up while in and any Government property is just that Government property! This scumbag could be activated and be brought upon numerous crimes cause if he was a Marine he'd wouldn't of picked up those items (under the UCMJ)! If you were a retired army you'd known that this scumbag is on 4 years inactive making this a legal possibility too! This is that 10% that makes me sick! The true unbecoming of a Marine! Try Treason, get him out of Va.
This clown should be given a General Courts Martial, convicted, and a 20 year room at the military prision at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. Aside from giving our enemies an advantage to kill fellow Americans, passing classified data, hardware, or secrets is stealing millions, and sometimes billions of dollars from the taxpayers who provide the money to develop our high technology advantages. Actually, if they give him the death sentence, call me. I'd be happy to squeeze the trigger, or pull the switch.
Hang him by his "private" !!!!
I'll provide the rope.