Camp Humphreys soldier sentenced for alcohol-related offenses
November 17, 2006
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — A 20-year-old Army private was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison and a bad-conduct discharge after pleading guilty to numerous offenses that included assaults on officers and sergeants and sexually explicit insults about two officers and their wives.
Other offenses included several incidents of underage drinking and destruction of property.
Pvt. Mitchel Mejias Jr. also was sentenced to forfeiture of all pay and allowances. He was a fuel supply specialist with Company E, 4th Battalion, 2nd Aviation Regiment, part of the 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
Under an agreement, Mejias will serve nine months in jail, with four days knocked off for time he spent confined before his trial.
Mejias pleaded guilty Wednesday to assaulting a commissioned officer, disrespect toward a commissioned officer, disobeying a commissioned officer, assaulting a noncommissioned officer, disrespect to a noncommissioned officer, failure to report, underage drinking, violating curfew, being drunk and disorderly, and willfully damaging government property.
He was tried by Army Col. Gregory Gross, chief judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit.
According to the prosecution, the offenses began June 5, when Mejias showed up drunk for work and got into a shoving match with another soldier.
When a sergeant from his unit moved to break it up, Mejias grabbed the NCO’s arm and pushed him against a wall, scratching him. Another NCO stepped in, wrestled Mejias to the ground and kept him in a headlock.
Some time later, Company E commander Capt. Joel Gleason arrived. The NCO was told to release the headlock and Mejias was told to stay on the ground face down. But when Mejias began to rise, the NCO resumed the headlock while Gleason and other unit leaders rushed forward to help restrain Mejias.
Mejias began to flail his legs and in the process caught Gleason in the shin and the unit first sergeant in the foot, the prosecution said. Mejias then unleashed a profanity-laced tirade against the NCO and Gleason, he admitted in court.
Military police arrived, handcuffed Mejias, and he spat on one of the MPs before they put him in their vehicle, he told the judge. Inside the vehicle, Mejias kicked and struggled with MPs, threatening them with harm if they didn’t remove his handcuffs.
More charges resulted from a July 5 episode that began when Mejias went drinking at an off-post bar. U.S. Forces Korea policy bans USFK personnel from drinking under age 21.
Mejias returned to Camp Humphreys at 2 a.m. — after curfew — and MPs apprehended him at the gate. He was taken to the post medical clinic for a blood alcohol test.
Returning to the barracks from the clinic, Mejias spoke using expletives to his platoon leader, Capt. Joseph Clark, about his wife. Mejias told the judge he also tried to fight a staff sergeant once he was back at his barracks.
Several weeks later, on July 19, NCOs checking barracks rooms found Mejias passed out after consuming tequila and several bottles of beer. He was taken to the clinic and ordered to take a blood test, but Mejias left.
July 30 brought another drinking incident and Mejias was again ordered to the clinic for a blood alcohol test. Once more, Mejias left the clinic and returned to his room, where his platoon sergeant found him asleep.
But as he was being readied to be returned to the clinic, Mejias broke a glass pane in a door and cut his hands. At the clinic, he smeared blood on the clinic walls, tore up signs, banged on doors and spoke abusively to clinic staff.
Prosecutor Capt. Veronica Hansen asked Gross to sentence Mejias to 18 months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge.
“He chose to become belligerent,” Hansen told the judge. “What the accused needs is a wake-up call.”
Defense lawyer Capt. Jack H. Ko asked Gross to give Mejias a bad-conduct discharge only, saying alcohol had been at the root of Mejias’ misconduct and that a lengthy prison term would impede treatment for his drinking problems.
Following sentencing, Mejias was handcuffed and driven to the Camp Humphreys jail.