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COURT-MARTIAL OF SERGEANT DELAYED

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The court-martial of a Hill Air Force Base sergeant charged with illegally selling $38.65 worth of military property has been postponed and a new date has not been set yet, according to the base legal affairs office.

Tech. Sgt. Michael J. Tarancon, 33, a 13-year Air Force veteran, was scheduled for court-martial proceedings Friday.Tarancon is one of more than 50 Air Force and civilian personnel at Hill named after a two-year undercover sting operation was revealed in July.

Two other sergeants have already been found not guilty of similar charges by military juries. The equipment they sold to a military surplus store in Roy that was in reality an FBI front was their personal gear, or had been issued to them by the Air Force, which never asked for it back, they testified.

The FBI's sting operation, called "Operation Punch-out," culminated in the sale of three F-16 jet engines, worth $2 million each, to FBI agents in July. Three persons, two former security policemen at Hill and one the wife of one suspect, are charged in the theft and awaiting trial in federal district court.

Operation Punchout was set up and run by the FBI and OSI at several military installations in the West.

According to the Hill legal affairs office, a total of 265 suspects have been identified through the operation, 53 at the Utah base. Of those at Hill, 51 are military members, ranging from airmen through sergeants, and two are civilians. Of the 51, 34 are still assigned to Hill and 17 have been transferred or reassigned.

Not all the suspects will face criminal prosecution or court-martial, according to the base. Some cases have been resolved through other administrative means.

Most of the charges involve selling military equipment and clothing valued at under $1,000.

But Staff Sgt. Timothy Eastabrook, 28, of the 2849th Security Police Squadron, faces a court-martial hearing on selling $5,304 worth of gear.

And Staff Sgt. Chris London, 26, with the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) maintenance squadron, is charged with two counts of theft and 19 counts of illegally selling government equipment valued at $67,000.