Osan airman's bad checks went to girlfriend
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An Air Force noncommissioned officer who faces punishment in a bogus check-writing case was using the money to provide his girlfriend with rent, a television, furniture and appliances for her off-base apartment, officials said.
Staff Sgt. James H. Morrison, assigned to the 303rd Intelligence Squadron, pleaded guilty to writing 13 bad checks totaling $3,900, violating the military’s curfew on off-base travel and disobeying an order, Air Force officials said.
He said he used the money to buy a TV from the Base Exchange and unlawfully give it to his Korean girlfriend.
Morrison also pleaded guilty to violating a “buddy” policy that calls for servicemembers to take at least one “buddy” when they venture off-base.
Buying a television from the base exchange and giving it to a Korean citizen violates the Status of Forces Agreement, which governs conduct of U.S. military personnel in South Korea.
The actions occurred variously between February and July, according to the Air Force.
“He pleaded guilty to all charges and elected to have his case tried by military judge alone,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Gerald Bruce, 51st Fighter Wing staff judge advocate.
The judge, Lt. Col. Dawn Eflein of Yokota Air Base, Japan, sentenced Morrison to reduction in rank to Airman 1st Class, forfeiture of $500 pay per month for three months, and 100 days’ confinement.
The day-long trial was held Monday in the courtroom of the 51st Fighter Wing legal office, Building 938.
Morrison, 30, has been in the Air Force since April 1997.
Morrison, the Air Force said, wrote 13 checks over a one-month period. They were written for cash to the base enlisted Mustang Club and to Osan Base Exchange.
“He admitted that he used the money to purchase numerous items, including furniture, appliances, a TV set … and for paying rent for his girlfriend, as well as eating in various restaurants,” Bruce said.
Morrison has since repaid the money, Bruce said.
“He purchased a television from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service at Osan,” Bruce said. “And under … regulations, it is considered a controlled exchange item, which means it cannot be transferred to a Korean citizen … without violating the Status of Forces Agreement. He did transfer it to a Korean citizen, and therefore it’s a violation.”
Additional details on the charges related to curfew and buddy policy violations were not available Friday.
Morrison is currently jailed at the Camp Humphreys Confinement Facility in Pyongtaek.