Former Osan town patrol leader gets two years, discharge from Air Force
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Air Force 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis, who pleaded guilty to abusing his position as head of a police team patrolling the bars outside Osan Air Base, was sentenced Wednesday to dismissal from the Air Force and two years in prison.
Military judge Lt. Col. Eric Dillow sentenced Davis on Wednesday night in the two-day general court-martial. Dillow is military judge for the Pacific Circuit, based at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Davis, of the 51st Security Forces Squadron, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conduct unbecoming an officer; activities prejudicial to good order and discipline or that were discrediting to the service; violation of orders; and making a false official statement.
The court-martial began Tuesday morning. Davis had opted for trial by military judge alone instead of a jury.
Prosecutor Maj. Jeffrey Ferguson sought a sentence of five years in prison and dismissal from the Air Force. Ferguson is chief circuit trial counsel for the Pacific Circuit at Yokota Air Base.
Had he imposed the maximum allowable penalties, Dillow could have sentenced Davis to 21 years and three months in prison, dismissal from the Air Force and total forfeiture of pay and allowances.
Davis and Osan officials still await word on whether the secretary of the Air Force will grant Davis’ July 6 request to resign in lieu of court-martial, a process called RILO. Air Force headquarters gave Osan prosecutors permission to hold Davis’ court-martial on condition that they take no further action in the case until the secretary decides the RILO matter.
Until his March 1 arrest, Davis headed the Songtan Town Patrol, which polices the Shinjang commercial district of bars, clothing stores and other business that cater mainly to U.S. servicemembers.
In pleading guilty Tuesday, Davis admitted to running illicit police undercover operations; accepting cash and gifts from club owners; maintaining illicit sexual liaisons with bar girls; violating the U.S. military’s curfew that the town patrol had the duty of enforcing; being drunk and disorderly; having sex with women who were not his wife; illegally possessing weapons; illegally maintaining an off-base apartment; using racial and ethnic slurs; filing a leave request with false information as to his intended destination; and maintaining an improper relationship with a subordinate airman.
In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop several earlier charges, including rape and assault. They had charged Davis on May 13 with bribery, extortion, rape, assault, larceny, adultery, violations of regulations and lawful orders, willful dereliction of duty, making false official statements and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Before sentencing, Davis took the witness stand and made a mostly tearful unsworn pre-sentencing statement.
“I set a bad example for a lot of people,” Davis said. “I’m here because I screwed up and I’m an idiot. … My actions set back town patrol. … Those guys deserved the recognition and they didn’t deserve the recognition that I brought them. … I got no excuse.”
Davis apologized to the town patrol, the 51st Security Forces Squadron and its commander, Lt. Col. Randall Richert.
Richert entrusted him with leadership of the town patrol, Davis said, but “I … threw it back in his face. I embarrassed him. I embarrassed the unit. I embarrassed the Air Force.
“Now I gotta go about digging myself out of the hole that I put myself in.”
In the prosecution’s pre-sentencing argument, Ferguson portrayed Davis as an officer who violated his trust and brought discredit upon the town patrol in the eyes of both U.S. servicemembers and the local Korean community.
“He was the official face of the Air Force in a foreign country …” and should have been a figure “that Americans can be proud of and that Koreans can respect and trust,” Ferguson said.
“Sadly,” Ferguson continued, “… the message that he sent is that” a United States military officer “can be bought. The American military was up for grabs and he was open for business…”
“He has made the armed forces … seem hypocritical,” said Ferguson. “Basically, he was using town patrol as his own posse.… If it got him money, gifts, or girls, or sex, it was no problem for the accused … using his own position for his own benefit.”
In making the defense’s pre-sentencing argument, defense lawyer Capt. Chad Cowan said the court needed to keep the case “in perspective. … Your honor, in spite of the crimes … he is still a great person” who has “great potential.”
Cowan cited trial testimony that Davis had performed well in a variety of key tasks assigned him.
The prosecution’s request for a five-year prison term was “just too much, your honor,” Cowan said. ‘It’s excessive.
“Your honor, Lt. Davis can and will overcome this. ..” said Cowan. “Now is the time for an appropriate and fair sentence.”
Earlier in the day, the court heard testimony from a series of defense witnesses who were relatives or acquaintances of Davis. They, and Davis himself, recounted how he survived a troubled childhood that included the death of his father when Davis was 5, and a mother who allegedly abused drugs and assaulted his grandmother. Davis spent time in foster care and a home for boys, but, they testified, he overcame those difficulties and won admission to the Citadel. He graduated from there before entering the Air Force.
Davis was to be taken Wednesday night to the U.S. military’s jail at Camp Humphreys.