Lieutenant accused of shaking down bars near Osan seeks OK to resign
August 20, 2005
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The Air Force lieutenant charged in an alleged shakedown of bars outside Osan Air Base while leading an Air Force police team that patrolled the bar district has asked the Air Force to let him resign instead of court-martialing him, officials said Wednesday.
The secretary of the Air Force is to decide whether to grant the request for resignation from 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis of the 51st Security Forces Squadron at Osan, said Capt. David Smith, the base’s chief spokesman.
But base officials say they’re going ahead with plans to put Davis on trial starting Sept. 19.
The Air Force charged Davis 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.
Until his arrest March 1, Davis headed the base’s Songtan Town Patrol, an Air Force police team that patrols the Shinjang-Dong commercial district of bars, restaurants, clothing stores and other businesses that cater mainly to U.S. servicemembers.
“Lt. Davis has requested resignation in lieu of court-martial …” commonly called RILO, said Smith. “Each request is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the secretary of the Air Force and takes into consideration all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.”
If the secretary denies the request, Davis must stand trial, Smith said.
“It’s a standard provision that an officer facing a court-martial can ask to resign instead of going to trial.… Any officer facing court-martial has this right to request this,” Smith said.
Osan officials declined further comment on the RILO process in general or on any other aspect of the Davis case.
Eugene R. Fidell, a military law expert with the National Institute of Military Justice, said similar resignation requests are common before courts-martial.
“If it turns out the level of crime is low, the defendant could step down and try to avoid a trial,” he said. “Or, if it’s a complicated case, he could take that outside of the military courts. There are a million reasons why it might work out better that way.”
Similarly, Fidell said, the Air Force might grant the request if it works to the service’s benefit: the caseload is too crowded, witnesses can’t be found, or the charges are minor enough to ignore.
“It’s still a trial and it still can be dicey,” he said. “You don’t know if you’ll win. If a person submits their resignation, that’s it. It’s over.”
Air Force personnel officials could not say if the secretary received Davis’ request.
Lt. Gen. Gary R. Trexler, commander of U.S. 7th Air Force, ordered the court-martial after reviewing findings of an Air Force investigating officer who on June 10 held an Article 32 hearing — the military equivalent of a grand jury — on the allegations.
Witnesses at the Article 32 hearing testified Davis had his pick of bar girls for sexual liaisons, conducted unauthorized “stings” of clubs in an attempt to snag bar owners in violations that would have left them open to being put off-limits and kept an illegal off-base apartment.
Some of the testimony came from three airmen in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution — two were fellow officers in the 51st Security Forces Squadron and the other a former squadron member.
Davis also faces prosecution by South Korean authorities on charges of possessing weapons at an off-base residence, in violation of Korean law. And South Korean authorities have said they may file additional charges later.
Davis remains in pretrial confinement at the 8th U.S. Army Confinement Facility at Camp Humphreys.
Reporter Leo Shane III contributed to this article from Washington.