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Carrier chiefs found guilty of helping sailor cheat on advancement exam

By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 10, 2010

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Two Navy chiefs will be forced to retire after helping an enlisted sailor cheat on an advancement exam, USS George Washington officials confirmed Thursday.

During a rare court-martial at sea, chief petty officers Reynaldo M. Bernardo and Ferdinand P. Quinto were found guilty May 24 of failing to obey a lawful order, said the aircraft carrier’s spokesman, Lt. Cmdr. Bill Urban.

Bernardo was demoted to petty officer first class, put on restriction for 60 days and docked a half-month’s pay, Urban said.

Quinto was put on restriction for 30 days and docked a half-month’s pay. He also was sentenced to a demotion, but it was suspended “due to a prior record of stellar service,” Urban said.

Both are being allowed to retire instead of being administratively separated, Urban confirmed.

Because they were not undesirably separated or discharged, neither sailor will lose his military benefits. However, Bernardo’s pension will be less as petty officer first class than it would have been as a chief petty officer.

Bernardo could not be reached for comment. Phone calls to Quinto’s residence were not answered Thursday.

Both sailors are no longer stationed aboard the carrier, Urban said.

On March 18, the two chiefs acted as proctors during a petty officer third class advancement exam.

During the exam, Bernardo and Quinto moved a sailor to a different table and then instructed the sailor to cheat off another sailor’s test, Urban said.

The other sailor reported the incident that evening, and an investigation began soon afterward, Urban said.

“The investigation revealed no evidence of any other cheating on board,” Urban said.

A decision has not been made by George Washington commanding officer Capt. David Lausman whether to take administrative action against the sailor who was allowed to cheat, Urban said.

Neither test in question was processed after being held as trial evidence. Only the sailor who reported the incident was allowed to retake the test, Urban said.

The exams for the rest of the sailors who took the test were allowed to be processed after the Naval Education and Training Command determined that the ship’s testing procedures were correct, Urban said.

In the future, USS George Washington will use additional proctors beyond the regulatory requirement, which varies based on the number of sailors taking an exam, Urban said.

Courts-martial at sea are unusual but were warranted because of the serious allegations and the ship’s operational status, Urban said. Defense attorneys were flown to the aircraft carrier during the investigation.

An attorney stationed aboard the ship acted as the prosecution, while a lieutenant commander from another department served as judge.

slavine@pstripes.osd.mil

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