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Marine sergeant major demoted for adultery

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Marine Corps sergeant major lost two stripes and was sentenced to 30 days in the brig Tuesday after pleading guilty to adultery involving a seven-month affair with a major’s wife.

Sgt. Maj. Fadrique Tarazon, a 27-year Marine veteran and former sergeant major of the Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, said the relationship with the woman was a “moral lapse of judgment” that has destroyed his career and deeply hurt his family.

Under the terms of a pretrial agreement, companion charges of sodomy and unauthorized absence were withdrawn. Also under the agreement, all but 14 days of confinement were suspended. Since Tarazon spent four days in pretrial confinement, he will have to serve no more than 10 days in jail.

Acknowledging Tarazon’s “previously unblemished career,” Col. Bruce D. Landrum, the presiding judge, recommended to the convening authority, which must approve the final sentence, that Tarazon be allowed to retain the rank of E-8 if he agrees to retire.

Tarazon faced a maximum sentence of a bad-conduct discharge, a year in prison, reduction in pay grade to E-1 and additional fines and suspension of two-thirds of his pay for a year.

During questioning by Landrum, Tarazon, 47, who became the unit’s senior enlisted man in May 2005, said the affair began in April 2006 when the unit’s operations officer was deployed in support of the war on terrorism.

The operations officer’s wife worked as a volunteer and had met Tarazon and his family at official functions at a previous duty station in Fresno, Calif., he said.

In 2006 she became a Key Volunteer, a Marine program whose participants link unit commanding officers with the unit’s families, and she came to Tarazon for advice on how to deal with the squadron’s commander, he said.

“She came to vent,” he said. Then, in mid-April, she asked him to her home and the affair began.

He said he declined to end it “despite feelings of misgiving” until his wife received a phone call from the major’s wife in November telling her about the affair.

Tarazon confessed to his wife and they decided he should report the indiscretion to his commanding officer, Tarazon told the judge.

The major said he never suspected another Marine would take advantage of his being away on deployment.

“It never entered my mind that I should be leery of a fellow Marine,” he testified during the sentencing phase of the trial. “Especially not a sergeant major.”


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