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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.
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?