Marine acquitted of fraud charges at Camp Foster
May 13, 2007
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Sgt. Maj. Arthur Simpson was found not guilty Friday of all but two of the 14 charges he faced in a court-martial for accusations that he lied to his commanding officer and defrauded the government.
Simpson, who was with 7th Communications Battalion, was found guilty of two charges of disobeying a lawful order for misusing his government travel card, but the court-martial panel sentenced him to no punishment.
The government had accused Simpson, 43, of lying to his commanding officer about being required by doctors to see a specialist in San Diego, then once there, lying that doctors said surgery was necessary and his family needed to be there.
Witnesses testified that he asked to see the doctor in San Diego and the surgery to remove a mass from Simpson’s sinuses was an elective procedure that didn’t require his family to be there. Majority of the charges hinged on Simpson’s travel vouchers for the trip to San Diego, which totaled more than $16,000.
Simpson, who has 24 years of service, was found not guilty of two charges of dereliction of duty, one charge of making false statements, three charges of wrongful appropriation, four charges of fraud, and two charges of general article violations.
The conviction of violating a lawful order was for personal use of his government travel card, such as withdrawing hundreds of dollars of cash and paying tolls on the Okinawan expressway.
When the not guilty verdicts were read for 12 of the charges, Simpson’s wife, Tracey Simpson, burst into tears and the blank expression Simpson wore for the trial dissolved into a smile. There were handshakes and hugs among Simpson’s family and the handful of high-ranking enlisted Marines who were present at the trial to support Simpson.
Before sentencing, retired Sgt. Maj. David Evans testified that Simpson’s character is such that he’ll “learn from this, humble from this and he’ll rebound from it.”
Another defense witness, Sgt. Maj. Robert Mastriano, the sergeant major for Marine Corps Bases Japan, testified Simpson is a positive, fair leader whom he’d trust with Marines.
“I’ll hire him,” Mastriano said.
In a Naval Criminal Investigative Service interview, Simpson wrote a statement saying “I no longer rate to wear the uniform of the Marines.”
The defense argued, however, that Simpson did not willfully mislead his commanding officer or intend to defraud the government.
The defense said personality traits and post-traumatic stress disorder from a tour in Iraq led Simpson to overact to the mass in his sinus and think he had cancer.
In the sentencing phase of the court-martial for the two guilty verdicts, prosecutor Maj. Robert Palmer argued to the panel that failing to punish Simpson for misusing the government travel card would “send a very dangerous message.”
But defense lawyer Ken Martin argued that the conviction, which will follow him into civilian life, was punishment enough.