U.S. v. Army E-8 – SOUTHCOM, Miami, FL/El Salvador tried at Fort Sam Houston, TX

President Funes & his mistress Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza.

Allegations: Rape x 2 Specifications, Forcible Oral & Anal Sodomy x 4 Specifications
Max Punishment: 2 Life Sentences + 40 years in prison, Dishonorable Discharge, Sex offender registration, Loss of Retirement
Result: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES
Sentence: NONE
Discharge: NONE
Location/Branch/Rank: SOUTHCOM, Miami, FL/El Salvador/tried at Fort Sam Houston, TX/Army/E-8

NCIS Teams Up with a Corrupt Regime & Tries to Convict Special Forces Veteran

Since the 1980s, the USA has worked with El Salvador to confront terrorism, drug trafficking, and human rights abuses. In 2009, Mauricio Funes was elected President. Funes is an anti-American communist. In many of his speeches, he bashes the United States.

In 2017, Funes was convicted of various crimes, including corruption. He then fled to Honduras with his mistress, Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza, the Kim Kardashian of El Salvador.

During his reign, the United States gave the country over $119 million a year in Federal Aid. As part of that aid, the Salvadorian President reluctantly agreed to have a small US military footprint. Despite the aid, US/Salvadorian relationship was at a historic low. The President took US money but did not want US involvement. After his election, the US Special Forces footprint in El Salvador was reduced to one man, our client. Our client was not a welcome guest.

The Housekeeper

Our client was a Special Forces E-8 that worked as an advisor to a covert Salvadorian Special Forces Unit.

Ada Mitchell Guzmán Sigüenza – Not the Housekeeper

When he moved to El Salvador, he was given a small house on the Salvadorian base. Soon after arriving, he interviewed a local Salvadorian housekeeper and hired her to clean his house. This woman was connected to the El Salvadorian Army and knew many soldiers on the base.

After he hired her, they had sex. He drove her home, off base, and they parted ways. The housekeeper was supposed to report for work the next morning. Later that evening, the housekeeper called and tried to renegotiate the terms of their agreement. She wanted more money and fewer hours of work. Our client told her “no” and said that if she was not at work the next day at 0600 hours, then she was fired. The woman called back and argued for more money. Then, our client fired her. This was the woman’s only employment and she was paid a good wage in US currency, especially compared to local housekeepers.

Blame the Yankee: An International Incident

The woman got upset and told her husband that an American soldier “me abuso.” Her husband then beat and raped her to reclaim his honor (this came out in court on cross-examination). The woman then called the Salvadorian base commander, a Colonel, and asked him for help getting her job back. She told the Colonel that the American “me abuso.” The woman was interviewed by multiple people and the story grew over time. Then, the US Embassy and Salvadorian government got involved. The case involved the highest levels of the Salvadorian government and US State Department as calls to arrest and prosecute the American soldier grew. As rumors spread and local soldiers were interviewed, the situation spiraled out of control. Our client’s life was in danger and he was secretly evacuated from El Salvador at night.

Ariel view of the Salvadorian Commando Base that we used at trial.

When NCIS showed up, they interviewed the woman. However, their Spanish speaking skills were poor. In their interview, the woman told NCIS that the American “me abuso.” In their report, NCIS wrote that our client violently raped and sodomized her. Later, the woman described the incident as a violent bloody struggle. NCIS took her to see a Salvadorian doctor who did a Rape Test kit. In the examination, the doctor allegedly found injuries to the vagina and anus. The doctor pinned the injuries on our client and claimed that the husband could not have caused the injuries, “because they were married.”

In the NCIS report, there was physical evidence, DNA, and numerous witnesses ready and willing to hang our client. The El Salvadoran Government wanted our client in jail. To appease the Salvadorans, the American Government spared no expense to win this case. It became an international incident between the US & El Salvador and their government used it to prove that Americans are bad. Losing this case was not an option for the US Government.

Before this case went to trial, the US Government tried to make amends by hiring the alleged victim to work at the US Embassy.

Our Client Passed Polygraph

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After the investigation started, our client took and passed a polygraph and provided evidence to prove his innocence to the US Government. SOUTHCOM disregarded all of his evidence and fought to suppress it at trial. They wanted to make an example out of this soldier and gain favor with El Salvador by sacrificing one of their own.

To gain an upper hand, the prosecution denied almost all defense witnesses. However, they flew up numerous Salvadoran witnesses and Americans from across the USA to testify against our client. They also brought the Salvadoran doctor who fought Mr. Waddington on every question, even simple ones.

At trial, the Army translator was not a native Spanish speaker. During the testimony, he improperly paraphrased the “victim’s” testimony and misinterpreted multiple words and phrases. Mr. Waddington and several jurors spoke Spanish and we caught and corrected his mistakes.

To further stack the deck, the Army appointed one of the top Special Victim Prosecutors (SVP) in the DoD. Then, they brought in a nationally known civilian prosecutor and expert in sexual assault prosecutions (similar to Nancy Grace) to work with the prosecution and get a conviction.

Mr. Waddington and Captain Dustin Murphy, along with legendary DNA expert, Dean Wideman, mounted a defense for our client with limited resources. Our client testified in his defense and crushed the prosecutor on cross-examination. We proved that the alleged victim was a hustler and liar, her husband raped her, and that the DNA evidence proved our client’s innocence.

RESULT: NOT GUILTY OF ALL CHARGES

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Eric Smith, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, holds a Vietnam service streamer during the unit’s 77th anniversary ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 2, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Roxanna Gonzalez)

 

A Marine caught up in the 1st Marine Division’s crusade to stamp out hazing now faces the prospect of being administratively separated from the Corps despite winning an appeals court’s decision to dismiss the charges lodged against him last year.

Sgt. Jamie Ortiz was one of nearly 30 Marines swept up in a legal storm last summer by Maj. Gen Eric Smith, the 1st Marine Division commander, and his effort to crack down on hazing across the division.

Ortiz was among a slew of Marines charged with hazing last year. But those charges were dismissed and Ortiz won a court victory in February when the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in his favor and rebuked the general for showing “personal interest” and bias in his efforts to stamp out hazing.

Now, despite winning in court, Ortiz says he’s being pushed out of the Corps.

On April 6, Ortiz, a Marine with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion out of Camp Pendleton, California, was presented with a notification of recommendation for administrative separation.

If the Corps successfully separates him, it could bar the young sergeant with an otherwise “spotless record” from ever re-enlisting in another service, according to his civilian lawyer Aaron Meyer.

“Lt. Col. C. M. Haar, Commanding Officer of 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, is attempting to invoke a seldom-used ‘Notification’ (paper) separation of Sgt Ortiz, under the guise of a frivolous ‘Commission of a Serious Offense’ basis…for an allegation of a ‘pinning’ ceremony,” Meyer told Marine Corps Times in an emailed statement.

Ortiz’s lawyer argues the push to separate Ortiz is nothing more than a reprisal, and that the timing of the notice is suspect.

Ortiz is approaching the milestone of six years of service on April 26, which would legally force the Corps to provide Ortiz with a board, offering the sergeant a chance to plead his case.

The appeals court judge in February was highly critical of how the division’s commanding general handled the hazing allegations.

“A reasonable observer would conclude that the CA’s [Convening Authority] ego is closely connected to the offense, and thus he has a personal interest in the matter,” the judge said in the ruling. The judge dismissed the charges against Ortiz.

But the Corps argues that separating Ortiz is appropriate because the appellate court’s ruling was concerned “exclusively with the procedure of the court-martial” and not on the “substance” of charges against Ortiz, Marine spokesman Capt. Paul Gainey told Marine Corps Times Thursday.

“The ruling does not preclude another superior convening authority from taking action and does not preclude the Marine Corps from further administrative action.,” Gainey said.

Marine investigators had “concluded” Ortiz was guilty of hazing Marines at the unit, Gainey added.

“The cowardice of this quiet paper separation is aggravated by the fact that the Command waited until all of their frivolous appeals were denied before deciding to revert back to making their own justice,” Meyer said. “They are obviously undeterred by the repeated rulings dismissing processes as a result of their illegal tactics, attempting to sidestep such pesky nuisances as “due process,” “a chance to be heard,” or the “regulations” of the “Marine Corps Separations Manual.”

Gainey explained to Marine Corps Times that any Marine up for administrative separation is “afforded all administrative procedural rights as outlined by the Marine Corps Order on Separations.”

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Eric M. Smith, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, launched a crackdown on hazing earlier this year. Smith is pictured here on a visit to Guadalcanal, Solomon Island, in August 2017. (Sgt. Wesley Timm/Marine Corps)
Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Eric M. Smith, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, launched a crackdown on hazing earlier this year. Smith is pictured here on a visit to Guadalcanal, Solomon Island, in August 2017. (Sgt. Wesley Timm/Marine Corps)

“A Marine has the opportunity to submit matters, whether they be mitigating or exculpatory circumstances, to the separation authority for consideration. A Marine also has the right to consult with an attorney during the process,” Gainey said in an emailed statement.

In July, Ortiz was placed in pretrial confinement for allegations that he hazed five other Marines and assaulted two.

He remained in pretrial confinement for nearly two months away from his wife and newborn baby, his lawyer told Marine Corps Times.

Ortiz was released from confinement on August 29, 2017, after a judge ruled “that the government has not met its burden by a preponderance of the evidence that confinement is necessary because Sergeant Ortiz will engage in further serious misconduct and lesser forms of restraint are inadequate.”

His commanding officer, in a memorandum obtained by Marine Corps Times, argued confinement was necessary because “Sergeant Ortiz has demonstrated a continued pattern of misconduct and is a flight risk.”

But that same memo also noted Ortiz had no prior nonjudicial punishments, negative “Page 11” entries in his service record book, nor court-martial convictions.

Investigators alleged Ortiz had attempted to coerce a witness.

After release from confinement, Ortiz was placed on pretrial restriction where he has largely been confined to the 33-area aboard Camp Pendleton.

“Even after the Court dismissed the charge, ruling that there would be no trial due to the malfeasance of Smith and Haar, Haar remained undeterred and defiant, keeping Ortiz on pretrial restriction with the approval of Smith,” Meyer said in an email to Marine Corps Times.

Meyer argues the “illegal” pretrial confinement, restriction, and now the notice to potentially separate his client from the Corps are evidence of retribution from senior Marine officials.

Ortiz is facing a potential administrative separation in which the “least favorable characterization of service he may receive is a General (Under Honorable Conditions),” Gainey said.

But Ortiz’s lawyer says the RE-4 code Haar assigned in the notification for separation, which Marine Corps Times has obtained a copy, is a “death penalty” for Ortiz and his family. An RE-4 code upon separation generally restricts a service member from ever re-enlisting in another branch of service.

“These leaders have effectively unchecked power to abuse these junior Marines that are the heart and soul of the Marine Corps,” Meyer said.

Smith has recused himself from separation proceedings against Ortiz and the commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will serve as the “separation authority” and make the determination whether Ortiz will be separated,” Gainey explained.

FORT DRUM — A sergeant on post was convicted of multiple sexual offenses in court martial proceedings in late January.

Sgt. Christian J. Corona was convicted on Jan. 26 with one count each of attempted sexual assault and abusive sexual contact. He was also acquitted of one count of sexual assault and a second count of abusive sexual contact.

Sgt. Corona was sentenced to a reduction in rank to private, 14 months’ confinement and a dishonorable discharge from the Army.

The release of court martial results for January and February had been delayed until April 4, after a reporter emailed Army public affairs officials requesting the information.

  • The court-martial trial of three SEALs accused of committing war crimes began with a flurry of motions Monday morning inside the courtroom of Naval Base San Diego.
  • Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Daniel V. Dambrosio Jr. and two Special Operator Chief Petty Officers — Xavier Silva and David N. Swarts — stand accused of abusing unknown male prisoners at Village Stability Platform Kalach in the Chora District of Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province on May 31, 2012.
  • A trial for their commander, Navy Lt. Jason L. Webb, waits in the wings.

The Navy’s top attorney might have scuttled a war crimes case against three SEALs by unlawfully meddling behind the scenes to bring charges against them.

After a flurry of Monday motions in the courtroom of Navy Cmdr. Arthur Gaston, the military judge ruled that Vice Adm. James Crawford III — the Navy’s judge advocate general — appears to have exerted unlawful command influence in a case first brought to light by a 2015 story in The New York Times.

The burden now shifts to military prosecutors to prove that Crawford, Naval Special Warfare Command’s Rear Adm. Timothy Szymanski and other senior leaders never created the appearance of behind-the-scenes maneuvers.

In the case at hand, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Daniel V. Dambrosio Jr. and two Special Operator Chief Petty Officers — Xavier Silva and David N. Swarts — are accused of abusing male prisoners at Village Stability Platform Kalach in the Chora District of Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province on May 31, 2012.

A June trial for their commander, Navy Lt. Jason L. Webb, waits in the wings but could be scuttled by the judge’s ruling, too.

Although military officials insist the SEALs’ defense team was searching for evidence that didn’t exist, the attorneys for the three commandos pointed to a series of actions by Crawford and other high-ranking commissioned officers, including now-retired Rear Adm. Brian Losey, the former commander of Coronado-based Naval Special Warfare.

For example, defense attorneys say that although Losey was hedging at reopening a probe into the SEALs, Crawford told him that a captain was being scrutinized for allegedly bypassing traditional investigative processes — possibly sending a warning to junior leaders that the Navy wanted the commandos prosecuted.

It’s now the third time Crawford has been accused of unlawfully plotting with military leaders to convict SEALs.

A ruling is expected in the coming days from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., into Crawford’s alleged involvement in the rape case of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Keith Barry, who was court-martialed and convicted in San Diego in 2015.

A special judge hearing evidence in Barry’s appeal already ruled that Crawford and others unlawfully tampered in the matter but left the final adjudication to the higher court.

Crawford also was accused by defense attorneys of unlawfully inserting himself into a probe involving the May 6, 2016, pool drowning of Seaman James Derek Lovelace during initial SEAL training. He has long insisted he was innocent in those cases and declined comment on Monday.

“The prosecution has opposed the defense motion to dismiss based on unlawful command influence in US v. Dambrosio, Silva and Swartz, and the judge’s ruling on the matter is forthcoming,” Navy spokeswoman Patricia Babb said by email. “It would be inappropriate to discuss this case further, as it is Navy policy to not comment on ongoing or pending litigation.”

Military prosecutors suspect that the three SEALs and several village militiamen began committing war crimes hours after a bomb detonated at an Afghan Local Police checkpoint.

Called “ALP,” they were part of an ad hoc mix of armed militiamen that fall under the control of Kabul’s Interior Ministry but often are trained and led by SEALs or Army Green Berets.

Angered by the death of one of their militiamen in the blast, the Afghan police unit detained a group of Afghan men and marched them to the American compound near Kalach, kicking them and beating them with rifle butts and car antennas, according to witness statements compiled in a Navy Criminal Investigative Service report.

Relying on the recollections of four American soldiers, two Navy support personnel and a local Afghan police officer who allegedly witnessed and reported parts of the incident, prosecutors believe that Dambrosio, Silva and Swarts joined in with the militiamen and, by the end of the night, one Afghan prisoner died.

An Army witness later claimed that a senior Afghan police officer told him that the prisoners, including the dead detainee, were innocent.

The NCIS probe determined that Dambrosio, of Naval Special Warfare Group Training Detachment, assaulted one unknown man by grabbing his throat and striking his chest with a rock. He also pulled out his service pistol, placed it near a bound prisoner’s head and fired it in order to terrify him, military investigators say.

A member of Special Reconnaissance Team 2, Silva allegedly dragged an unidentified detainee by the neck, struck his chest with a rock, kicked him and at one point placed his body weight on his body to crush him.

Likewise accused of firing his pistol near a prisoner’s head, SEAL Team 5’s Swarts also allegedly struck a man with a rock. He’s also been charged with conspiring with his commander, SEAL Team 10’s Lt. Jason L. Webb, to lie to military leaders about what really happened that night.

Prosecutors allege that Swarts and Webb discussed filing a fake statement with their superiors and mulled submitting alternative versions of what really happened, omitting key details in their official report.

Because he was the senior SEAL during the incident, Webb’s charges are the most serious.

He’s accused of willfully failing to supervise the interactions between his sailors and the Afghan militiamen when they interrogated the prisoners. Instead, Webb retreated to his office for “the duration of the interactions to avoid supervising the situation and the U.S. personnel,” according to his charge sheet.

Instead of sending a report warning his chain of command about the alleged war crimes, he sent a bogus message indicating only that an Afghan militiaman died in an explosion and that the village police officers’ “swift actions, decision making, and communication skills reflect that they are well prepared to handle situations of this magnitude,” court filings state.

He also allegedly urged an Army staff sergeant to never talk about how the SEALs abused the prisoners, part of an effort to impede a criminal probe, federal agents believe.

Not that it initially mattered because neither Webb nor his men ended up at a court-martial in 2012, after allegations of the war crimes surfaced.

Their commander, Capt. Robert E. Smith, gave them non-judicial punishment. Called a “Captain’s Mast” in the Navy, it’s a far less severe form of justice and its proceedings play out in private, far from public courtrooms and a paper trail citizens can follow.

Smith later said that he believed some of the statements against the SEALs were shaky and senior staff advisers had urged him to forgo what’s called “Article 32” proceedings, which are similar to a grand jury probe launched by federal prosecutors in civilian courts.

Allegations by the soldiers that the SEALs tried to cover it all up reverberated across a Navy already reeling from multiple scandals, including the ongoing “Fat Leonard” Navy bribery case.

After the 2015 story in The New York Times, the Navy launched probes not only into what the SEALs allegedly did in Afghanistan but also the process Smith used to sidestep court-martial proceedings against them.

Smith’s name was scrubbed from a selection list for admiral, although prosecutors said Monday his delayed promotion now has been forwarded to the White House for approval.

In his Monday ruling, Cmdr. Gaston seized on actions taken against Smith, reasoning that they could have sent a “perceptible chill over the military criminal justice system” by warning future commanders that they also wouldn’t get promoted if they didn’t prosecute the SEALs.

“If it was known to (Rear Adm.) Losey it would be known to Szymanski when he took over,” Gaston said.

On Jan. 19, 2017, the three enlisted SEALs were charged with war crimes by Szymanski and nearly eight months later Navy Region Southwest commander Rear Adm. Yancy B. Lindsey forwarded their prosecutions to a general court-martial trial in San Diego.

The top military prosecutor in the war crimes case, Cmdr. Andrea Lockhart, vowed to press the Navy’s view that even if Crawford and others discussed the SEALs it doesn’t mean other commanders such as Szymanski and Lindsey failed to rely on evidence uncovered by news reporters and NCIS to make independent decisions to charge the sailors.

And the defense will keep trying to seek more than 200 emails and documents that Navy officials have withheld from them. They believe more evidence of high-ranking meddling might be found in them.

The hearings resume on Tuesday morning with the prosecution expected to submit statements from top admirals insisting that they reached their decisions to charge the SEALs without concerns about what Crawford or other more senior leaders wanted.

By Brian Melley, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LOS ANGELES — A U.S. Air Force officer who served on the presidential security detail faces a possible court-martial in Texas for encouraging service members to send him photos of their genitals from locations around the world and rewarding contributions with commemorative T-shirts, patches and coins.

Second Lt. Travis Burch was charged earlier this month at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, with conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.

Burch created a fraternal club of sorts that grew to 84 people, including 58 active military and 10 former members among the civilians, according to an investigation file obtained by The Associated Press. Most members were enlisted men in the Air Force, though the group also included a U.S. Marine and one current and one former U.S. Navy sailor.

Burch used the military alphabet to create the code name “Whiskey Delta Tango” for the group known to users by a more vulgar term, according to a summary of the investigation.

It started in 2012 and “was comprised of members who when going someplace deemed ’cool’ or coming up with a ’funny’ idea would take a picture of their penis with something related to the location or object in the picture,” the investigation said.

Defence lawyer Jeremiah J. Sullivan III said no crime was committed and the case was built around what was done privately in a “jovial, joking spirit” among consenting adults.

“The Air Force has spent well over a year investigating this case all over the globe,” Sullivan said. “This was a completely private group that is now embarrassed by Air Force investigators. They’re now being publicly shamed for lawfully and voluntarily sharing their penis pictures. It’s a private matter.”

The partly censored investigation document said Burch told someone not identified that he took his final suggestive selfie at the vice-president’s residence while assigned to the security detail.

Sullivan confirmed Burch was part of the presidential security detail while stationed at Joint Base Andrews from 2014 to 2016, but said no such photo was shot at the house then occupied by Vice-President Joe Biden.

“There were never photos taken at the White House or the vice-president’s house,” he said. “We know that for a fact.”

Burch was enlisted during most of the time he collected and shared images so voluminous they had to be stored on an external hard drive.

In a conversation with a friend, Burch said there was nothing illegal about the club among enlisted personnel, but he had to either go into “hibernation” or pass the torch to someone once he entered officer training school, according to the investigation report.

The investigation, however, said he didn’t stop after being commissioned as an officer in March 2016 at the end of his assignment to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Two months after his commissioning, he texted an airman in Belgium and said he was going through “withdrawal” and asked the man to send a racy video.

One of the charges alleges Burch threatened to share a photo of one member touching Burch’s penis if the man didn’t send more images.

Sullivan rejected that charge and said all the photos were taken consensually and no one was threatened.

Investigators found the hard drive hidden in a hollowed-out book in Burch’s quarters. They also found coins and other prizes featuring the symbol of a rooster that were awarded for completing a series of different poses and other acts.

The Air Force acknowledged the misconduct charges after being contacted, but declined to comment further. Burch faces a hearing to determine if he should be tried by court-martial for any of three counts, including an allegation that he solicited service members to commit indecent conduct that brought discredit to the armed forces.

It was not immediately clear what penalty he could face.

Military commanders have broad disciplinary discretion and evaluate whether misconduct behind closed doors interferes with control of a unit and could lead to breakdown in obedience, said attorney Dwight Stirling, former chief prosecutor of the California National Guard.

“In this case the commander must view this behaviour as seriously undermining the good order of his unit and wants to throw the book at the defendant,” Stirling said. “It really suggests that the commander is trying to send a message not just about one case, but the culture of the unit.”

Sullivan said an administrative hearing would be more appropriate.

Last year, the Navy disciplined two pilots who used the contrail behind their fighter jet to draw a penis in the sky over rural Washington. That incident became widely publicized after photos were posted on social media.