Pacific edition, Wednesday, July 18, 2007

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Three Misawa servicemembers who were arrested for trying to steal a cat statue from a Hachinohe city pachinko parlor in May were punished by their respective units, but military officials aren’t saying how.

The troops had to pay full restitution, split three ways, for repairs to the “lucky cat” statue to the owner of the pachinko parlor, Maj. David E. Vercellone, deputy staff judge advocate for the 35th Fighter Wing, said in an e-mail.

Vercellone did not specify the amount. But Japanese police said after the incident that the statue, called maneki neko in Japanese, or “beckoning cat,” was worth an estimated $5,000.

Base officials did not release the servicemembers’ names, but Japanese police previously identified them as sailors Jeremy Saxe, 20, and Jeremy Justine, 22; and airman Nicholes Sample, 21.

Vercellone said the airman was an airman first class assigned to the 301st Intelligence Squadron. He did not provide any information about the sailors.

The three men were briefly in the custody of Hachinohe city police after a witness reported the incident. After their release, Vercellone said the servicemembers were returned to their units and “have faced punishments in accordance with the authority of their leadership under the Uniform Code of Military Justice … Information concerning specific punishments can not be released.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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