When it came to getting weapons, officials say, Jeffrey Klotz knew where to go. Wearing the uniform of an Air Force major, he went to Fort Meade in Maryland and soon left with 30 M-16 rifles, 20 M-9 pistols and two Chevrolet Blazers to boot, authorities allege.
A few days later, Klotz picked up 12,000 rounds of ammunition from a military installation in Pennsylvania, where he had shown up to volunteer to teach Civil Air Patrol cadets how to fire weapons, according to officials.
The problem was that he wasn't even in the Air Force, let alone a major, officials said.
No alarms about the missing weaponry were raised until a routine check of his military papers, which turned out to be counterfeit, led to charges being filed earlier this month against Klotz, a 35-year-old District man.
"It's something we're all stunned by," Maj. Robert Meinert, executive director of the Civil Air Patrol in Pennsylvania, said yesterday. "Surprised is an understatement. Shocked and disappointed is more to the point."
Klotz is scheduled to appear in District Court in Lebanon, Pa., on Sept. 27 for a preliminary hearing on charges of making false statements, impersonating a public servant and improperly wearing a uniform and insignia.
The weapons Klotz allegedly acquired were used for target practice by the cadets and have all been recovered by the Army. "They came back in pristine condition," said Joe Hanley, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Reserve Command at Fort McPherson, Ga.
One official said that it does not appear that Klotz intended to sell the weapons or otherwise dispose of them. "I don't think he had an ulterior motive other than training the cadets," he said.
Klotz belonged to the Civil Air Patrol from 1988 until May, when his membership lapsed, according to the Associated Press.
The guns were acquired from the 318th Military Police Regiment, an Army Reserve unit based at Fort Meade, and the Blazers were picked up from an Army Reserve supply depot at the installation. Officials could not immediately explain how Klotz allegedly managed to take two Blazers away from Fort Meade.
In the wake of the incident, the U.S. Army Reserve has ordered an immediate security review at its installations nationwide, an official said yesterday. "We want to find out what part of the process broke down to allow this to happen," Hanley said.
How Klotz allegedly was able to acquire the weapons is "the subject of investigation," Hanley said.
Military units routinely lend equipment to other units, but only to military personnel who present letters of request from their units and proper identification. The lending unit is also required to call the unit asking for the equipment to verify the request.
After withdrawing the weapons July 19 at Fort Meade, Klotz drove to Fort Indiantown Gap, in south-central Pennsylvania, where he told Civil Air Patrol officials that he was an Air Force major who had been assigned to help run a one-week training camp for Civil Air Patrol cadets, authorities said. Air Force officers routinely help out at the annual summer encampments, which normally draw 100 to 200 cadets from across the state, Meinert said, and no one suspected anything was amiss.
"Mr. Klotz presented himself at all times as an Air Force officer and seemed very knowledgeable," Meinert said. "There were legitimate Air Force officers there at the encampment, and we never got any word that they thought he was questionable."
"He was a likable guy and very helpful, a gentleman willing to chip in and help wherever it was needed," Meinert added.
Klotz was so helpful that he volunteered to handle weapons training at the encampment, authorities said. "Jeffrey Klotz, purporting to be a major, offered to handle the orientation," Meinert said.
At that point, Klotz allegedly went to the ammunition supply point at Fort Indiantown Gap and picked up 10,080 rounds of rifle ammunition and 2,000 rounds for the 9mm pistols.
But in the meantime, Meinert, following routine procedure, sent a copy of Klotz's orders to post officials for verification. Four days later, Air Force investigators arrived at the installation and began asking questions.
According to court papers cited by the Associated Press, Klotz told Air Force investigators that he had been discharged from Air Force basic training because of a bad knee. He told the investigators that he instead studied to be an officer through mail-order courses.
"Jeffrey A. Klotz also stated that he continued to take mail-order classes and as time passed, he promoted himself to the rank of major in 1996," the investigators said in court filings.
Klotz remains in the custody of Pennsylvania authorities, an Army Reserve spokesman said.
A spokesman for Fort Meade downplayed the incident and said the installation was not responsible for the theft because the equipment belonged to Army Reserve units that are tenants on the Anne Arundel County base.
"The connection to us at Meade is not that great," said Rich Lane, a spokesman for the base. Nonetheless, Lane added, "it's something we do take real seriously. There are obviously some concerns with security."
But Lane said he had no information on whether Fort Meade has taken any steps to improve security.
Staff writer Patrice Gaines contributed to this report.