F-35B mechanic faces list of offenses in alleged car theft and crash in Japan
Stars and Stripes February 17, 2023
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – Japanese prosecutors charged a Marine lance corporal stationed here with multiple offenses Wednesday, including auto theft and drunken driving, stemming from a December crash that injured two people.
The indictment against Lance Cpl. Dominic Youngren includes illegally entering a car dealership, theft, negligent driving resulting in injuries and violations of Japan’s Road Traffic Law, a spokesman for Yamaguchi District Court's Iwakuni Branch said by phone Thursday.
The spokesman would not elaborate on the traffic law violations; however, the Chugoku newspaper reported Thursday that Youngren was charged with drunken driving and failing to report an accident.
A spokesman for MCAS Iwakuni acknowledged the charges against Youngren but declined to comment on the lance corporal’s custody status, citing the ongoing proceedings.
“We can confirm that, Lance Cpl. Dominic G. Youngren, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, was [formally] indicted by the Iwakuni Prosecutors Office,” Maj. Gerard Farao said by email Friday. “We take these matters seriously and the service member and his command are fully committed to cooperating with Japanese authorities who exercise primary jurisdiction in the legal proceedings.”
Images uploaded in May to the Defense Visual Information Service identify Youngren as a fixed wing aircraft mechanic for the squadron, which flies F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters.
Police say Youngren broke into the dealership while intoxicated at 7:14 a.m. Dec. 3, drove away in a car worth about $41,000, and rear-ended another vehicle at an intersection in Asahi machi. The other driver and a passenger suffered minor injuries, including a sprained neck, the police spokesman said in January.
The Marine left the accident scene without reporting it to police, according to the spokesman.
Youngren met with the stolen car’s owner on Jan. 26, apologized and promised to pay for damages, according to a Chugoku report.
Japanese police sending the case to prosecutors had recommended that Youngren be “severely punished.” Prosecutors, not police, decide formal charges under Japan's criminal justice system.
“No trial date has been scheduled yet,” the spokesman said.
It’s customary in Japan for some government spokespeople to speak to the media on condition of anonymity.