Army convicts agent who disobeyed order to work
MANNHEIM, Germany — It took only a few months for Army Sgt. Andre Lemos to realize he was not cut out to be a criminal investigator.
The 43-year-old former Army diver thought he could quit at any time during his probationary period. But when he turned in his badge and credentials last January, the detachment’s top agent ordered him to take them back and return to work.
After Lemos refused, the Army charged him.
Lemos was convicted at a court-martial on Tuesday of disobeying a direct order after refusing to return to a job that he admittedly did not do well and grew to loathe.
A military jury sentenced Lemos on Wednesday to reduction of one pay grade, forfeiture of $900 for six months and hard labor.
The case is believed to be the first time an Army CID agent has been ordered to return to work after trying to resign during his probationary period.
The conviction comes as the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command is aggressively recruiting new special agents for units that are short staffed due to the high number of deployments to places such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lemos, a native of Brazil who has spent 10 years in the Army, said it was “common knowledge” that an agent could quit if he wanted to while on probation.
Lemos struggled with the mountain of paperwork and became jaded with the high volume of questionable sexual assaults and indecent-acts allegations.
He feared that if he continued working as an agent he might jeopardize a criminal investigation. “I was not good for the job,” he testified.
That didn’t matter to Chief Warrant Officer 3 Phillip Curran, who supervises four enlisted agents at the Mannheim detachment.
Curran testified on Tuesday that he was aware Lemos didn’t want to be an agent but didn’t want to reassign him until the end of his probation.
“I needed him to do his job,” Curran said.
Curran initially accepted Lemos’ badge and credentials and told him to go get his gun and turn it in on Jan. 17. But when Lemos returned with his pistol, Curran changed his mind. He told him to take the badge and credentials back three times. When Lemos refused, Master Sgt. Tara Wheadon warned him about the consequences of disobeying a direct order from a superior and told him to remove the sergeant stripes from his uniform.
Wheadon testified that the loss of Lemos as an investigating agent meant the other investigators in the detachment had to work longer and harder. Lemos said he would have been willing to perform administrative duties until he was reassigned but he was never given that option.
CID agents investigate felony-level crimes in the Army, and their skills are in high demand. Last July, the Pentagon began offering $20,000 lump sum bonuses to active-duty enlisted soldiers who completed the chief warrant officer CID basic course.