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US v. Air Force E-7 (Article 81, Article 132, Article 134)

Practice Area: Military law

Outcome: NOT GUILTY of Article 81, Article 132 and 1 Specification of Article 134. Guilty of Obstruction of Justice, Sentence: Reprimand and reduction in grade one rank. NO PUNITIVE DISCHARGE! RETIREMENT SAVED!!

Description: My client is a Test Parachutist for the Air Force. He happens to be one of the most experienced test parachutists in the military. He was accused of conspiracy to commit fraud against the Government, making false claims against the government, obstruction of justice and wrongful receipt of government funds. At the time I was brought on as counsel, my client was pulled off of terminal leave. The Government proceeded to investigate the case for 11 months before they charged my client with a crime. My client wisely heeded my advice and did not talk with investigators. In short, my client was accused of overbilling the government for services not rendered through a contract vendor known as Sky Dive Elsinore. Sky Dive Elsinore provided lift and jump services to the Test Parachutists at Edwards AFB. Brad and I flew out to Edwards AFB about 5 days prior to the Article 32 to conduct our own investigation. We had an opportunity to review the files prior to coming to Edwards AFB, however there were more than a few witnesses that we needed to discuss. Brad and I traveled down to Sky Dive Elsinore and interviewed 3 very important witnesses in our case. We then toured the facilities of Sky Dive Elsinore in order to get a feel for how things operated for the Air Force Parachutists. Over the next few days leading up to the Article 32 Brad and I conducted over 30 witness interviews in order to get down to the bottom of what was really happening. We interviewed the key players in program management, unit leadership and contracting to figure out where the disconnect was. We also learned that the OSI agents did not take the time to learn about the contracts involved. OSI did not take the time to learn about my client’s job and requirements as a test parachutist. OSI also failed to learn the different parts of a parachute and what would be required to do jumps. OSI failed to learn all of the different equipment requirements for a test parachutist. For example, OSI thought a CYPRES device was an altimeter. A CYPRES Device is a parachute release system that activates automatically at a certain altitude if for get to pull your Shute. It became very clear that the Government had no clue as to what was really going on in this case. Brad and I went more than the extra mile to understand every aspect of this case so that we could properly defend our client. At trial we expertly explained to the panel what was going on with the contracts. We pointed out that everything my client was doing was actually authorized. Brad and I did the research and found the paperwork that authorized the alleged overbilling. We also took the time to expose how the Government failed in their duties to properly instruct the Test Parachutists, and Sky Dive Elsinore on how the contracting for the services should be properly handled. Lastly, in my closing argument, I used all of the Government’s evidence against them. The Government had put up a slide show documenting the invoices they use to come up with the calculations that they made to determine exactly how much my client alleged made false claims for. The Government did not look at their evidence close enough because I was able to point out an authorization on every invoice they brought forward. The Government failed to properly investigate this case thoroughly and if they had investigated it properly no charges would have been brought in the first place.

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