Court is told Marine goods wound up on Japanese black market
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A special court-martial convened Tuesday for a Marine staff sergeant accused of selling uniforms and other military equipment to an Okinawan man prosecutors allege is a black marketer.
Marine Staff Sgt. Jeffery Gregorec, 38, of the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group, was charged with multiple counts, including selling military property, violating a lawful order, dereliction of duty, larceny, assault and unbecoming conduct.
He pleaded not guilty to everything except violating a lawful order.
Prosecutors say that starting in January 2004, Gregorec sold more than $500 worth of equipment — including uniforms, boots, knives and protective goggles — to Okinawa Ordnance, a military surplus dealer on the island.
Prosecutors contend the goods were resold to military aficionados, primarily on mainland Japan, willing to pay a premium for authentic Marine Corps equipment.
Gregorec also is accused of offering military-style training in Shizuoka, Japan, while in uniform, at a “recon school” run by Eiji Teruya, the owner of Okinawa Ordnance. The school catered to the same military enthusiasts who purchased the uniforms, prosecutors said. Prosecutors also said Gregorec manhandled one Okinawa Ordnance female employee and committed adultery with another.
In opening statements, prosecutor Capt. Andrew Beckwith said the staff sergeant “commercialized on his association with the Marine Corps.”
“He siphoned off critical gear for personal gain,” Beckwith said. “All the former employees who will testify will say that they saw the accused coming into the store several times a week, if not daily, during the height of this black marketeering.”
Defense attorney Capt. Jennifer Herrmann said Gregorec gave old equipment to a friend on a few occasions spread out over three years.
“This case is about friendship,” Herrmann said. “Staff Sgt. Gregorec is accused of violating various orders. He’s accused of larceny. He’s accused of exchanging military property. The evidence does not show that.”
Four prosecution witnesses, all Japanese, testified Tuesday.
One woman, Teruya’s estranged wife, testified that Gregorec came to the store frequently with items for her husband and that she paid him for the goods as instructed by Teruya.
Another woman testified Gregorec grabbed her on a few occasions and showed her an inappropriate photograph of himself on his cell phone.
The trial is being heard by military judge Maj. Charles Hale. It was set to reconvene Wednesday morning.