Marine gets 30 days in brig, reduced 3 ranks for misconduct
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Marine staff sergeant found guilty of dereliction of duty and unbecoming conduct was reduced Friday to corporal and sentenced to 30 days in the brig.
Before being sentenced, Staff Sgt. Jeffery Gregorec, 38, apologized for any harm his actions caused the Marine Corps and his fellow servicemembers. With his voice cracking, he added: “The Marine Corps is my life.”
It is unclear whether Gregorec will lose his pension. Gregorec is less than two years away from the 20 years of service required to qualify for retirement. Although he was not discharged, the Marine’s commanding officer could request that he be administratively separated.
The sentence also includes 30 days of restriction and 60 days of hard labor. No one would clarify to Stars and Stripes whether the 30 and 30 was concurrent or consecutive. Additionally, all parties declined to comment on whether Gregorec will be allowed to complete his 20 years and retire and referred all questions to III MEF public affairs, which declined to comment on the matter.
On Thursday, military judge Maj. Charles Hale found Gregorec not guilty of charges relating to an alleged black-market scheme, the heart of the government’s case against him. Throughout the court-martial, prosecutors contended that Gregorec teamed with Eiji Teruya, the owner of a store called Okinawa Ordnance, to sell Marine Corps gear to Japanese paintball enthusiasts.
However, Gregorec was found guilty of willful dereliction of duty and unbecoming conduct. He also pleaded guilty to one charge of disobeying a lawful order.
In court, Hale found that Gregorec, 38, of the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s Special Operations Training Group, brought a group of Japanese nationals onto Camp Hansen and let them fire M-4 rifles on Range 16. The judge also found that the staff sergeant showed a photograph of male genitalia to a female worker at the surplus store.
On Tuesday, Gregorec pleaded guilty to violating a lawful order for leaving Okinawa to go home on leave.
During the punishment phase of the trial, prosecutor Capt. Andrew Beckwith argued that if an accident had happened at the range, it would have caused an international incident. He asked Hale to impose a sentence of 120 days’ confinement, reduction in rank to lance corporal, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for six months and a bad-conduct discharge.
Beckwith said that reduction in rank was the most important issue for the prosecution.
“He has forfeited the privilege and responsibility of being a staff noncommissioned officer,” he said. “His utter disregard for the interests of the Corps and his country demonstrate an inexcusable selfishness, a potentially catastrophic absence of common sense and professional judgment.”
Capt. Jennifer Herrmann, Gregorec’s defense attorney, urged clemency, noting the Marine’s almost two decades of service. She asked for fines and confinement rather than reduction in rank.
“We ask for leniency in allowing Staff Sgt. Gregorec to have the ability to retire. He has … a little bit more than 18 years in the service. If he was reduced in rank he would not be able to retire and that is his goal now, to take care of his family.”
According to standard military justice procedures, Gregorec’s case will be reviewed automatically and it is possible that clemency could be granted, resulting in his rank being completely or partially restored. Such clemency, however, is rarely given.