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RAF LAKENHEATH, England — A veteran combat pilot and his fighter pilot wife are waiting to hear if they’ll have to stand trial for allegedly stealing more than $30,000 from the government through their overseas housing allowances.

An Article 32 hearing was held Thursday for Lt. Col. Bryan Fujimoto and his wife, Capt. Jennifer Fujimoto, who are being investigated for larceny, conspiracy and signing false official statements, according to Air Force court records.

The alleged theft occurred between September 2004 and August 2006, court records show. The Air Force also alleges the couple conspired to steal the money and signed false statements concerning their housing status.

Defense attorney Eric Seitz argued that both U.S. Air Force Academy graduates acted in good faith and without intent to defraud the government when they signed separate leases for two residences on the same Suffolk property.

Court records allege that Lt. Col. Fujimoto leased a home referred to as Triangle Wood on Kennett Road in Herringswell, Bury St. Edmunds, while Capt. Fujimoto leased a home referred to as Woodland Cottage on Kennett Road in Herringswell, Bury St. Edmunds. Both properties were originally for lease under a single agreement, but the landlord broke the residences into separate leases to accommodate the Air Force couple, according to courtroom testimony.

During Seitz’s questioning of two Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents, Seitz stressed that the Fujimotos’ tour at the 48th Fighter Wing was the first time they had served overseas together, and that they were unaware of the complex rules governing overseas housing allowances for married military couples.

Seitz also brought forward a witness who testified about the complex nature of the overseas housing allowance system as well as a character witness.

The Hawaii-based defense attorney introduced into evidence a four-page slide show on entitlements related to overseas housing allowance that the 48th Mission Support Group executive officer distributed around RAF Lakenheath in November 2006.

The OSI launched its probe into the couple’s housing allowances in August 2006 following a tip from a confidential informant who said she overheard a friend of Capt. Fujimoto’s talking about their housing situation.

Agent Kristopher Trisch refused to provide the identity of the informant, as well as why he could not provide her name. “They were getting [overseas housing allowance] at full rate when they weren’t supposed to,” Trisch siad in response to Seitz’s questioning. The agent also testified that he was not aware the Fujimotos wrote the government a check for nearly $35,000 shortly after being alerted of their alleged theft.

The hearing’s investigating officer, Col. Mark Allred, will make a recommendation to the convening authority sometime in the near future whether the couple should face a court-martial.

If convicted in a court-martial of all three alleged crimes, each suspect faces a maximum penalty of dismissal from the Air Force and 15 years’ confinement.


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