00:16 GMT29 October 2020
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    Fired US Navy Capt. Heather E. Cole was charged with criminal conspiracy earlier this year after she failed to disclose her active-duty military status while negotiating high-priced contracts for her manufacturing firm.

    Charge sheets recently obtained by the Navy Times state that contracts brokered by the servicemember between 2002 and 2015 for her Oklahoma-based firm, Worksaver Material Handling Equipment Company, Inc., amounted to some $635,000. At issue are five US Marine Corps contracts, two Defense Logistics Agency deals and one US Air Force order secured by the firm from 2002 to 2013.

    Cole previously pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 26 after being ordered to a general court-martial. The matter is set to go to trial later this year in December.

    The Times reported that Cole reportedly received help with the deals from two civilian co-conspirators whose names were redacted from documents provided to the publication. Authorities have also indicated that Cole allegedly lied to a US Navy legal officer in 2012, claiming that she was a "non-participating partner in Worksaver" and that the company had been given a waiver to conduct business with the federal government.

    Additionally, Cole's alleged crimes include occasions in 2014 and 2015 when she used a "US government aircraft without proper authorization" and when she used military communication systems without permission in 2013.

    Jocelyn Stewart, Cole's attorney, told the Times that her client is being unjustly pursued by Navy officials.

    "Captain Cole is being railroaded by the Navy whether because of political priorities, resentment toward what she has achieved or fear of the truths she has told and is continuing to tell," Stewart said. "Despite all the challenges Captain Cole has faced in this misguided prosecution, we look forward to having our day in court to tell the real story and clear her good name."

    "[Cole] has been subjected to the Navy's spurious charges, procedural roadblocks and a process more interested in demeaning her character and service to our country than in fairness, fact-finding and following the legal process," she added.

    The investigation into Cole has taken roughly three years.

    Cole previously served as the commander of Strategic Communications Wing 1 at Oklahoma's Tinker Air Force Base. She was fired from the service in 2015 after higher-ups determined she was unable to keep up with demands.

    Brian O'Rourke, spokesperson for the US Navy, told the Times that the charges were not related to the dismissed captain's 2015 departure. "The charging and the firing were two completely different things, he said.

    No other charges have been made in connection to the contracts.


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