MINT HILL, N.C. — Several law enforcement agencies descended on a Mint Hill home early Wednesday morning to investigate stolen military gear they said was being sold on eBay.
Investigators surrounded a home before dawn at the end of Mint Forest Drive near Matthews-Mint Hill Road and were posted outside for hours.
Federal agents said 39-year-old Kerry Hughley, a former soldier in the U.S. Army, had been using the home to sell high-tech, stolen military equipment online.
"I find it upsetting that he would disregard his oath," former U.S. Army Rangemaster and combat veteran Roger Ayscue said.
Hughley’s wife doesn’t think he did anything wrong. She said all they were doing was selling items online so it was natural that Hughley sold military hardware.
According to the federal complaint, Hughley “did willfully and knowingly and without authority sell, convey, and dispose of property of the United States, to wit: the theft and the subsequent sale of military-owned night vision equipment, worth over one thousand dollars ($1000.00).”
Officials said Hughley was selling items like night vision goggles and sophisticated laser pointers that are supposed to be destroyed or disabled when the military is done with them.
The former rangemaster, Ayscue, looked through the federal documents explaining what Hughley allegedly sold.
"That's state of the art,” Ayscue said. “That is not something that should be available anywhere."
He was referring to the thermal-imaging equipment, in particular.
“It totally eliminates concealment,” the combat veteran said. “You may have a complete camouflage uniform on with this. OK, those are bushes, that's a human."
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Residents said they heard authorities call for the homeowners to come outside around 6 a.m.
"My wife woke me up this morning ... saying they were hollering, saying, 'come out with your hands up,'" said neighbor Lewis Kimruy.
Throughout the morning, Channel 9 watched as multiple law enforcement agencies went in and out of the home, including Defense Criminal Investigative Service agents, who investigate crimes involving fraud, finances and threats to national security.
Channel 9 saw investigators remove two briefcases out of the home and place them in a truck.
Postal inspectors questioned the mail carrier designated to Hughley’s neighborhood.
“On Friday, they just came in asking me questions about the house,” mail carrier Zachery Jacobs said. “(They asked) who lived there, if they had any packages.”
The questions last week from postal inspectors made sense when he saw agents there Wednesday.
“It registered in my mind what had happened on Thursday and Friday, and that's when I realized something must be happening. Something must be up,” Jacobs said.
Officials said eBay records show Hughley reportedly sold 150 items from December 2016 to February 2018 for a total of $178,975.20. In a little less than two years, officials said Hughley's Paypal account brought in more than $530,000.
"So, if you were to put that as a feature on the battlefield, there is going to be a lot more dead GI's coming home," Ayscue said about the items sold on eBay.
Hughley served in the U.S. Army and separated in 2004, according to law enforcement and military records.
This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for updates.
Cox Media Group