YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A U.S. soldier was demoted to the Army’s lowest rank and sentenced to six months’ confinement in a court-martial here last week after admitting he “wrongfully appropriated” a Korean friend’s money and used it for gambling.

Spc. Andrew Foster, who worked in Camp Henry’s judge advocate office in Taegu, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two charges of “wrongful appropriation” that involved the largest of two loans from a Korean friend. Foster also was found guilty of failing to report for duty Sept. 3 and of being derelict in performing his duties on a day two years ago, according to the 8th Army public affairs office.

But Foster was cleared Thursday of several of the other eight specifications in the four charges filed against him. Also accused of taking thousands of dollars from other friends for gambling, he could have faced more than 16 years in prison had he been convicted of the original charges.

Walker told the court this week he intended to return all the money and that his wages are being diverted to satisfy the remaining debts. Foster had faced multiple charges involving stealing money and failing to pay debts to friends from 2003 and 2004. But he told the court Wednesday he never stole any of the money he borrowed from three friends, as prosecutors alleged.

Instead, Foster testified, his financial missteps grew from his gambling addiction. He kept borrowing money to pay off other loans and to continue to gamble in hopes of winning enough cash to become debt-free, he told the court.

“Whenever you lose at gambling, you think you can win,” Foster told the court. “If you think you’re going to lose, you wouldn’t gamble.”

The prosecution argued that Foster was a “con man” who preyed on his friends’ generosity with no plans to make good on his debts.

“Spc. Foster continued to lie, continued to deceive,” prosecutor Capt. Kristian W. Murray argued in opening statements.

Foster admitted he used a series of lies, including muggings at train stations and the need for cash to buy, then re-sell, a used car, to persuade his friends to continue the loans.

Early last summer, Foster met Dr. Kim Hyun-min, an orthopedist planning a move to St. Louis. The two struck a deal, both men testified: Foster’s family in a nearby town was to find and buy a used car for the Korean.

Within a few days, Foster had a Korean cashier’s check for the equivalent of $8,000 and enough won in cash to equal $200. Foster said he couldn’t get the check cashed at an on-base bank or a Korean bank so he went to the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill because he knew its casino would cash it. Kim, in separate testimony, told the court any Korean bank would have cashed the check.

Foster said while at the casino, he started to gamble with his own $300 to $400.

“I began to play and I began to lose,” Foster testified. When he lost his own money, he started to use Kim’s money. Within 12 hours, he lost it all, Foster testified.

He went back to Kim and told him the car in the States went to another buyer but a more expensive car was available. Kim reluctantly gave Foster another $4,200, Kim testified.

Foster returned to the casino and lost that as well, he told the court.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now