Okinawa Marine acquitted of illegally selling gear
A Marine accused of selling military uniforms and equipment to a military surplus retailer was acquitted Thursday on all but three charges.
Military judge Maj. Charles Hale found Staff Sgt. Jeffery Gregorec not guilty of charges relating to an alleged black-market scheme, the heart of the government’s case against him.
Gregorec was found guilty of willful dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming. In addition, Gregorec 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.
The charges against Gregorec included selling military property, violating a lawful order, dereliction of duty, larceny, assault and unbecoming conduct.
On Wednesday, Hale dropped one charge of violating a lawful order — based on allegations that Gregorec had trained Japanese nationals while in uniform — and a charge of adultery.
Throughout the court-martial, prosecutors contended that Gregorec teamed with Eiji Teruya, the owner of Okinawa Ordnance, to sell Marine Corps gear to Japanese paintball enthusiasts. In opening statements Tuesday, prosecutors said Gregorec “commercialized” his relationship with the Marine Corps.
Teruya’s estranged wife had told the court on Tuesday that her husband instructed her to give Gregorec money for gear and had used a form of bookkeeping designed to keep Gregorec’s alleged transactions secret.
In her closing arguments, Gregorec’s attorney Capt. Jennifer Herrmann said the prosecution’s witnesses were unreliable.
“Their stories change in their own testimony on the stand,” she said.
She added that there was no clear evidence linking Gregorec to anything sold at the surplus retailer.
“There’s no evidence of where this alleged military gear came from,” she said.
Herrmann reiterated her opening statement claim that Teruya and Gregorec were friends, not business partners.
Prosecutor Capt. Robert Eckert said Gregorec’s actions and photographs of him in uniform on an Okinawa Ordnance-related Web site showed that his desire to make money trumped his desire to follow the law.
“This case is not about friendship; it’s about business,” he said. “You don’t go someplace every day for lunch in a Marine Corps uniform with Marine Corps gear. You don’t go there every day to visit a friend.”
The court-martial was to continue Friday with the sentencing portion of the trial. Gregorec could receive up to a year of confinement, a bad conduct discharge, two-thirds loss of pay for one year and reduction in rank to E-1.