Saturday, March 14, 2009

An Army of One, a Crime Wave of Two

Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, in this creed does it say to embezzle unit funds or sell drugs.

Normally, I go out of my way to highlight the good deeds and brave sacrifices of our nation’s military men and women. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines (and the Coasties too) seldom get the recognition they deserve.

However, a few bad apples full of worms ruin the whole bushel. Or, as a wise old MP sergeant that I knew in Germany once said, “One “aw, shit” wipes out all your attaboys”.”

It pains me to have to bring you this sort of news about a couple of scumbags who have tarnished the image of professional soldiering and disgraced the uniform of my United States Army.

My first shitbird is a commissioned officer, no less. It seems that Captain Michael Dung Nguyen pleaded not guilty last week to charges including theft of government property and money laundering stemming from stealing nearly $700,000.00 from unit funds while in Iraq.

Nguyen, a 2004 West Point graduate, is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Washington.

A federal grand jury indictment alleges that between April 2007 and February 2009, the 28-year old Nguyen stole more than $690,000 entrusted to him as the battalion Civil Affairs Officer in Muqdadiyah, Iraq. Prosecutors say the funds stolen by Nguyen were derived from the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) funds. CERP funds were designed to enable local commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction by carrying out programs that would immediately assist the people in the region.

The indictment alleges Nguyen used some of the money to buy a 2008 BMW M3 and a 2009 Hummer H3T, along with computers, electronics and furniture. Court documents state the indictment said he mailed bundles of stolen $100 bills home before he returned from Iraq and say he opened bank accounts in his home state of Oregon and elsewhere. The individual deposits were less than $10,000 but he sometimes made numerous deposits on the same or consecutive days, according to the indictment. The indictment further alleges that shortly after his return from Iraq, Nguyen opened new bank accounts at several banks, including Bank of America and Washington Mutual Bank, and proceeded to deposit the stolen money in a manner intended to avoid detection.

The maximum penalty for each of the charged crimes is 10 years in prison and a fine of $500,000.

U.S. Attorney Karin J. Immergut stated, “As an officer of the U.S. Army and a graduate of West Point, Capt. Nguyen agreed to uphold the principles of ‘Duty, Honor, Country.’ The conduct alleged in today’s indictment is flagrant and reprehensible disregard of these principles. By stealing money intended to assist Iraqi citizens, Capt. Nguyen betrayed his country and the fine men and women of our nation’s armed services.”

The investigation was initiated by the Portland office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation following the discovery of large and frequent currency deposits and substantial expenditures above Captain Nguyen’s legitimate income level. The investigation was joined by the FBI, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit and Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

What a dick.

As an MP, we looked out for suspicious turds like this. How fitting that Dung is in his name. Way to go, Captain Dung. When you start seeing a guy who’s obviously living beyond his ostensible means, it sends up red flags to authorities. Guys who all of a sudden are seen with outrageously fancy cars and big screen TV’s and dropping 8 grand on hot tubs in a 400-grand house get scrutinized a bit more closely. Sure, I had a lot of disposable income when I was in, and I pissed it away on CD’s and partying, but I still wasn’t able to sport a new Beemer, even when I was in Germany. We all shared a rather well-used 518, or we took cabs.

An O-3/Captain with 10 years in the Army makes $5,358.00 a month, plus more for combat pay and other incentives & allowances. Even still, a BMW M3 runs in the area of $58,000 and a Hummer H3T is about another $45,000 depending on options. This guy pulls down maybe $65,000 a year before taxes, and his two rides alone are easily $103,000 or so, plus insurance, fuel, and maintenance & upkeep. I’m not a mathematical genius, but even I can see the numbers are a bit off.

Sure, I’ve seen people go way into debt with outrageous car payments in the military to buy flashy rides, simply because they really had no other expenses, and a quick cursory look-see was all it took to make sure they were on the up & up. We even took a look at a kid in my own unit once who had a pretty nice ride, and also had loaded parents who bought it for him.

Like a typical dumbass criminal, he made a simple stupid error and flaunted his ill-gotten wealth instead of keeping a low profile. However, this next imbecile deserves a swift kick in the balls before being sent to Leavenworth for a few decades. At least Captain Dung didn’t kill anyone.

The United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Turning criminals into couples since 1874...

Private Timothy Bennitt, 19, was charged this week with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 16 year old Leah King on February 15. He is also charged with distributing drugs to other soldiers. King was found dead and another teenage girl was found unconscious in a barracks building at Fort Lewis.

Officials have confirmed King died from a toxic combination of Alprazolam, the anti-depressant marketed as Xanax, and Oxymorphone, a pain killer marketed as Opana. According to investigators, some of these drugs were crushed and inhaled in powder form, denying any time-release protection that a pill form might provide. Yeah, that’s real smart.

Additional charges have been filed against Bennitt related to the distribution of drugs to other soldiers, as well as wrongful use of a number of drugs at previous times. These remain under investigation.

The drugs he's accused of distributing include Alprazolam (Xanax), Oxymorphone (Opana), Oxycodone (Percocet), and marijuana.
These are the following charges against Bennitt under the Punitive Articles of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ):
- Article 119 - Involuntary Manslaughter
- Article 112a - Wrongful use and distribution of controlled substances
- Article 81 - Conspiracy to use controlled substances
If convicted of all charges contained in the charge sheet, the maximum punishment is reduction in rank to private (E-1), forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for 82 years, and a dishonorable discharge.

Hell, I’d piss-test him to see if we could get him on Article 134 (the catch-all General Article) in addition to Article 92 (Failure to Obey a Lawful Order). He had two underage girls in there, most likely to get them stoned before screwing them, so mayhap we can add Article 120 (Sexual Misconduct) or maybe even Sodomy under Article 125. (Incidentally the military looks upon oral sex as Sodomy. There’s a lot of guilty people out there. Some of them even write popular blogs.)

Since the death of King, Fort Lewis has made changes to its access on the base. All minors must be signed in at the Fort Lewis Visitor's Center. The staff is required to screen all minors and sponsors. Fort Lewis has also increased random access checks of vehicles to help prevent minors from gaining inappropriate access to the post. In addition, authorities have increased checks at barracks. Sadly, unit commanders are now gonna get a ration of shit & be accused of not keeping a closer eye on their subordinates and the MP’s at Lewis will be worked even harder to “increase the presence” since in the Army, shit rolls downhill and the further down the food chain you are, the wider your mouth opens to receive that steamy open-faced shitwich.

It’s a fine line that junior enlisted soldiers have to walk, being 18 and 19 years old, right out of high school and still learning how to be adults as well as soldiers, and many still think it’s okay to hang out with high-schoolers. However, there are certain freedoms and liberties you surrender to a certain degree when you don the uniform, and codes of conduct that need to be strictly enforced for the general good.

This Bennitt puke not just broke the code of conduct, he shredded and mangled it by selling drugs, took advantage of dumb-ass school kids for his own pleasures, and whether he wanted to or not, got one of them killed.

Have fun playing poker with Captain Dung at Leavenworth, Bennitt. And don’t drop the soap.

Bad boys, bad boys....whatcha gonna do?

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