Airman gets 10 months in prison for Osan housing scam
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — A 26-year-old airman based here was sentenced Tuesday to ten months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge after pleading guilty to cheating the Air Force out of thousands of dollars in housing allowances by lying about where his family lived, officials said.
When Air Force investigators checked out the address in San Francisco — which pays an especially high housing allowance rate — they found it was a parking garage, officials said, and charged Senior Airman Jason R. Edwards with larceny and making a false official statement.
During his court-martial Tuesday, Edwards pleaded guilty to cheating the Air Force out of $16,000 in basic allowance for housing, or BAH, payments, from February 2005 to January. He was charged Feb. 27. He’d been in the Air Force about three years and eight months.
Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Dillow also sentenced Edwards to reduction to the military’s lowest pay grade, E-1. Edwards, of the 607th Combat Communications Squadron at Osan Air Base, had opted to be tried by military judge instead of a jury. Dillow is a military judge for the Pacific Circuit, based at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Prosecutors said Edwards filled out a housing allowance application giving San Francisco as his family’s residence while the family was living in Bolivia.
Authorities got wind of the scam after the Air Force Audit Agency in 2005 audited housing allowance claims of personnel at Osan and Kunsan air bases in South Korea.
Suspicious of Edwards’ claim, the agency alerted Osan-based agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which asked their counterparts at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to check the address.
Among official Air Force “core values” are “service before self” and “excellence in all we do,” said Lt. Col. Steven Meador, the staff judge advocate for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing.
“When we take an oath we’ve got core values that we adhere to,” Meador said. “And to just throw those out the window because you get greedy, someone like that does not belong in our Air Force.”
After sentencing, Edwards was driven to the U.S. military’s jail at nearby Camp Humphreys.
In a similar court-martial April 10, Dillow sentenced Air Force Staff Sgt. Lanny Marsh to one year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge and reduction to E-1 after Marsh pleaded guilty to stealing $13,500 in housing allowances by listing a San Francisco address.
In that case, too, suspicions arose during the Air Force’s Osan-Kunsan audit. When OSI agents checked the address, no one there knew Marsh. He’d been in the Air Force six years at the time of sentencing.