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Military Court Case Uncovers Marine Sex Escapades At Air Station Miramar
A decision handed down recently in a military appellate court sheds light on a sexual scandal that rocked Marine Corps Air Station Miramar last year, detailing a senior enlisted leader’s escapades with a superior officer in their offices and inappropriate dalliances with his junior troops.
A tribunal at the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals has refused to vacate the conviction of ex-Master Sgt. Frederico A. “Rico” Williams, a 21-year veteran of the service and one of Miramar’s senior enlisted leaders before his Jan.16, 2016, court-martial conviction and dramatic fall from power.
A Marine jury — called a “panel” in the military — found him guilty of disobeying a lawful general order, uttering a false official statement, adultery, larceny and obstructing justice. He was sentenced to six months in the brig, busted down to private and evicted from the corps on a bad-conduct discharge, which prevented him from retiring from the service and collecting military pension and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
In his appeal, Williams, 41, of San Diego, argued that his transgressions were minor and the discharge too severe, but the three judges disagreed and said the punishment fit the litany of crimes he committed.
“This characterization of (his) misconduct demonstrates failure to grasp its true impact, and to understand how inimical it is to military service,” wrote Navy Capt. Colleen Glaser-Allen, the chief judge, in her 10-page opinion. “Senior enlisted noncommissioned officers like the appellant are the backbone of the Marine Corps and the naval service as a whole — and as such, have a particular responsibility to lead by example.”
Reached by telephone, Williams said he was disappointed by the ruling but knew he did wrong. He vowed to appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, a separate case is percolating through the Naval Clemency and Parole Board.
“I definitely have a sour taste in my mouth. I sat in the brig for six months and wasn’t allowed to retire from the Marine Corps after a good 21-year career,” he said.
Married in 2008, Williams was posted to Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 at Miramar’s 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing four years later. He served as both the maintenance management chief and one of the most senior non-commissioned officers inside the Wing, responsible for overseeing supplies flowing to mechanics.
During an investigation into a discrimination complaint against other senior leaders, a witness mentioned a problem in a $332 travel claim Williams submitted for a trip to Arizona’s Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. According to the corps, his claim was based on a forged letter stating that there was no on-base lodging for Williams to use, triggering a probe by Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
Agents soon learned about his extramarital affairs and other inappropriate relationships. The women included a superior officer identified only as “1stLt SS,” a pair of unnamed sergeants who worked for Williams and a female friend from his high school days who accompanied him to Yuma on the trip.
Williams told the woman to lie and say that she was his cousin, if anyone asked, according to his court-martial documents. The military outlaws adulterous relationships and fraternization between the ranks and will prosecute them if they threaten to destroy unit cohesion, are tied to other crimes or bring the service into disrepute.
“The appellant repeatedly acted with flagrant disregard of the consequences upon his unit by having regular adulterous intercourse with a superior officer in his office, suggesting a subordinate sergeant hold the camera to film his sexual escapades, having sex with a different subordinate, stealing from the government, and telling a civilian mistress to lie about the nature of their relationship to anyone who asked,” the chief judge wrote.
“Significantly, when word of the adultery and fraternization spread to other active-duty Marines, (Williams) feigned offense at the rumors, continued his behavior and blatantly lied to an NCIS agents just hours after having sexual relations with the superior officer, stating six times, ‘I don’t deal with military’ when referring to his sexual exploits,” she wrote.
The superior officer received nonjudicial punishment for conduct unbecoming an officer, an administrative sanction that falls far below a federal criminal conviction. She resigned her commission and exited the service, according to Marine spokeswoman Capt. Morgan M. Frazer.
“This type of behavior and mindset is not tolerated within 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and is not consistent with our core values of honor, courage and commitment that are demonstrated by the vast majority of Marines on a daily basis,” Frazer said by email.
Williams told The San Diego Union-Tribune that two senior commissioned officers in the command were allowed to quietly retire after they were caught in unlawful romances. He insisted that the lieutenant in his case testified against him only after she reached a plea deal that gave her a much lighter penalty for the same conduct.
“We are confident that the command conducted a thorough investigation into the matter and took appropriate administrative or disciplinary action for all persons involved,” Frazer said, adding the wing “regularly assesses command climate and conducts annual training to ensure Marines understand and comply with Marine Corps policies and procedures.”
Williams hopes that new judges will reward him for his two deployments each to Iraq and Afghanistan, three meritorious promotions, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and five Navy Achievement Medals for superior service and let him retire at a lower rank. He remained married and said he counted on a military pension to help support four children, he said.
The clerk of court for the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces said that paperwork requesting a review of Williams’ case had yet to be submitted.
©2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at Associated Materials. Committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, Associated Materials Incorporated is a client of Hirepurpose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn more here.
Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."