Five Army veterans sentenced for keeping M72 anti-tank weapon in home nearly six years ago

A soldier (not the soldiers in the succeeding article) fires a M72 anti-tank weapon.

Three US Army veterans have been sentenced to probation after stealing an M72 anti-tank weapon and smuggling it back to the United States nearly six years ago.

The former Soldiers -SGT. Kyle Nespory, SGT Victor Naranjo and former SPC Anthony Laitta- were previously assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker BCT at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, and acquired the M72A5 LAW shortly after the 2010 Battle of Marjah in Afghanistan.

Defense attorneys representing the veterans cited Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, drug dependency and Traumatic Brain Injuries as the reasons that the soldiers exercised poor judgement in stealing what the BATFE refers to as a “destructive device”- which just so happened to be NATO property.

The legal troubles began after Nespory’s ex-girlfriend turned the weapon in to a Sheriff’s Deputy, following it being left behind at her house when he moved out of state. The woman did not know how to operate the device.

Prior to this location, the LAW had changed hands a few times. Originally part of a “battlefield exchange” with the Canadian army, the rocket was allegedly present at the Battle of Marjah and ended up redeploying home with the 2nd Brigade, where it was snuck off base at the end of Laitta’s enlistment.

Two weeks later, Laitta was attending a party at Naranjo’s Tacoma home, where he informed his comrades that he had the LAW and wasn’t sure what to do with it. He would eventually return to his home and come back to Naranjo’s house, where the guys took photos posing with it.

“Mr. Naranjo was not only a friend, but he was also a sergeant to a few of the people involved,” his attorney wrote in a pre-sentencing memo. “More importantly, given the bonds formed in combat, he felt a brotherhood toward his friends and wanted to help.”

While the men faced felony convictions, all three struck a plea deal in exchange for probation, ranging from six month to one year, respectively, for improper storage of explosives and possession of stolen government property.

Fortunately for the veterans, their attorney has argued that there were casualties of war and had shown poor judgement clouded by a myriad of physical and psychological wounds, as well as alcohol and painkiller dependency. Despite this, attorneys argued that the men are trying to better themselves and deserved leniency.

According to the Army Times, one soldier still facing charges is Keller Bellu, the supply clerk who allowed Laitta to part with the LAW from a military armory.

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Author

  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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