Prosecutors seek passport of overseas Navy officer charged in Afghan visa scheme
Stars and Stripes May 19, 2023
NAPLES, Italy — The Justice Department is seeking the passport of a Navy Reserve officer awaiting trial on bribery, money laundering and other federal charges related to allegations he wrote fake recommendation letters for Afghan nationals seeking to live in America.
Federal prosecutors say Cmdr. Jeromy Pittmann, 54, violated pre-trial conditions of release when he moved from Italy to Germany in September without their permission.
That action violates conditions set by the court in March 2022 that allowed Pittmann to retain his passport and continue working for the U.S. government at Naval Support Activity Naples while he awaited trial, the DOJ said in a document filed Tuesday in New Hampshire U.S. district court.
The Justice Department is asking Judge Landya McCafferty to amend those conditions and require Pittmann to turn over his passport to the court or his attorney.
It also wants Pittmann to report weekly to a probation office and get approval from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office before traveling outside of Germany, according to the court filing.
McCafferty earlier this month ordered Pittmann to appear in person at a June 26 pre-trial conference.
“The United States continues to have concerns about whether (Pittmann’s) release conditions are sufficient to assure his appearance in court,” prosecutors said in the filing. “In addition to appearing to now reside in Germany, (Pittmann) appears to no longer maintain a residence in the United States.”
The trial was to begin on Tuesday but was rescheduled for July 18 after McCafferty granted a request by Pittmann’s attorney to no longer represent him, according to court records.
Two other defense attorneys also have withdrawn from the case.
Pittmann, who has served as a Seabee reservist for 20 years, including time in Afghanistan, was accused in March 2022 of receiving thousands of dollars for writing fraudulent recommendation letters vouching for Afghan citizens seeking a Special Immigrant Visa through the State Department, according to court records.
He was indicted in November on conspiracy, bribery, false writing and money laundering charges.
According to the indictment, Pittmann conspired with others from about February 2018 to at least March 2021 to write false letters, saying he had supervised the visa applicants while they worked as translators for U.S. Army and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
In the letters, Pittmann claimed the applicants’ lives were in jeopardy from the Taliban and that based on his personal knowledge they were not a threat to national security, according to prosecutors.
In return, Pittmann received money, including $2,000 transferred to his bank account in July 2018 as payment for a fake invoice he created to hide the transaction, the indictment alleges.
German authorities notified the U.S. in March 2023 that Pittmann had been in Germany for about six months, the DOJ said in Tuesday’s court filing.
He resigned from his position at NSA Naples in July and asked at least twice to travel to Germany. Those requests were rejected, court documents show.
It wasn’t clear where Pittmann was living in Germany or if he was working for a new employer.