On June 13, 2003, Jeffrey D. Arriola, a former Angelina County Deputy
Sheriff, pled guilty to stealing debris from the space shuttle
Columbia. Arriola admitted that while he was helping locate shuttle
wreckage, he illegally pocketed two small pieces of a straight-back
type back shell, which is a wiring harness connector on the shuttle.

United States Attorney Matthew D. Orwin praised the cooperative effort
of the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office and NASA’s Office of Inspector
General, “This investigation centered on the activities of a law
enforcement officer. A deputy sheriff should know better than to take
a piece of the shuttle. We expect a high degree of professionalism and
integrity from those sworn to uphold the law and Arriola failed the
test when that moment came.”

Since the pieces have a value of less than $1,000 Arriola has pled
guilty to a misdemeanor. Arriola resigned his sheriff’s deputy
commission after he was indicted. He could face a maximum sentence of
one year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

This investigation was conducted by the NASA Office of Inspector
General and Angelina County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States
Attorney John Stevens is prosecuting the case.

For more information on this release, please call Joe Kroener, Acting
Executive Officer, NASA Office of Inspector General at (202) 358-2558.