Well I was wrong. Justice was not served and military men and women should be shaking their heads. Apparently being an infantry officer who hails from military royalty means that you can get away with just about anything.
Col. James Johnson III was convicted and ordered to 5 years confinement however there is a catch. The panel of officers also assigned a $300,000 fine with the condition that if Johnson pays it he will not have to serve the years in confinement. Not only that but he will not be discharged, dishonorably or otherwise. This means that Johnson, who was convicted of defrauding the United States government, will be able to retire as a full bird Colonel with 26 years of service and collect a $72,000 a year pension.
On the Facebook page of the independent Army Times, outrage was expressed. One commenter declared, “This is as bad as it gets … The lower enlisted go to jail for stealing a soda, and an officer gets to retire and live his life after being found guilty of bigamy. I had a soldier in Iraq found guilty of bigamy; he is still in jail.” Another simply noted, “Officers taking care of their own.”
An Army airborne Colonel who was relieved of his command of the 173rd Airborne Brigade is now facing a court marital in Germany after charges including conduct unbecoming an officer and suspicion of fraud were levied against him. The charges stem from an extramarital affair the Colonel had with a woman he met while in Iraq. In total he faces 6 charges with 21 additional specifications of single incidents. He was facing 27 specifications however 6 of those were dropped. He has pleaded guilty to most of the charges and now faces a dishonorable discharge (a felony) if convicted and prison time.
Col. James Johnson III, a West Point graduate, combat veteran and Ranger, is facing a panel of officers after he was relieved of his command of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd in March 2011. He has pleaded guilty to 15 counts against him, not guilty to 6 and those will be evaluated by the panel of officers. Johnson was the son of Lt. Gen. James H. Johnson Jr who led the 82nd Airborne into combat in the first gulf war. Johnson III was an up and coming officer within the Army when karma came around to slap him in the face.
So what did he do exactly?
Johnson is accused of having a long term affair with an Iraqi woman that he met while on a 2005-06 deployment there. She was the daughter of his units’ cultural adviser and he decided to marry her before he even filed for divorce from his original wife. The Iraqi woman that he married also lives in Europe which is where most of the affair took place. It is still unknown if he is actually legally divorced from his first wife.
Haveen Alladin Muhammed Al-Atar, the Iraqi he married, hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing but she certainly didn’t do her war trophy any favors. According to the charge sheet filed against Johnson he gave her and her family an Army cell phone that they proceeded to rack up an $80,000 cell phone bill on (and you cry when AT&T charges you a late fee). Johnson was also charged with using official government vehicles and government travel cards which are similar to credit cards to visit her in the Netherlands.
It gets even better.
He also arranged for official government transport for her that cost you the taxpayer thousands of dollars and he wasted tens of thousands of dollarsAccording to the UCMJ Article 132 for frauds against the United States: When amount is over $500.00. Dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for 5 years. on government contracts for the woman’s father. The contracts were for things that “were neither produced nor received,” according to the Army hence the fraud charge.
The court marital will resume Monday in the German town of Kaiserslautern and is expected to conclude June 16. If he is convicted and sentenced to the maximum he will spend several years in a military prison before he is dishonorably discharged. A dishonorable discharge means that he will not be eligible for any benefits including his pension and it will disqualify him from many jobs because it is equal to being convicted of a felony as a civilian.
Maybe he should have recited the Army values a few more times?
- Selfless Service
- Personal Courage
Activated in 1915, as the 173rd Infantry Brigade, the unit saw service in World War I, but is best known for its actions during the Vietnam War. The brigade was the first major United States Army ground formation deployed in Vietnam, serving there May 1965–1971 and losing almost 1,800 soldiers. Noted for its roles in Operation Hump and Operation Junction City, the 173rd is best known for the Battle of Dak To, where it suffered heavy casualties in close combat with North Vietnamese forces. Brigade members received over 7,700 decorations, including more than 6,000 Purple Hearts. The brigade returned to the United States, where it was deactivated in 1972.
Since its reactivation in 2000, the brigade served four tours in the Middle East in support of the War on Terror. The 173rd participated in the initial invasion of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and had three tours in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005–2006, 2007–2008 and 2009–2010. The brigade returned from its most recent deployment in eastern Afghanistan in December 2010.