Osan officer charged in bribery scandal fined for illegal arms
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — The U.S. Air Force lieutenant facing court-martial in an alleged shake-down of bars outside Osan Air Base has been convicted on weapons charges by a South Korean court and fined almost $5,000, the U.S. military command in Seoul disclosed Tuesday.
South Korean prosecutors in Pyeongtaek indicted 1st Lt. Jason D. Davis on July 1 on a charge of illegally possessing firearms. A judge later entered a summary judgment fining him 5 million Korean won (about $4,800), said USFK spokesman David Oten.
Davis, of the 51st Security Forces Squadron at Osan Air Base, did not appear in court on the matter, Oten said.
Under South Korean law, once served with the court order, Davis would have seven days to respond. He could contest the conviction and request a trial in a South Korean court. If he doesn’t contest the conviction, he would have 30 more days to pay the fine or face about 100 days in a South Korean jail in lieu of payment, Oten said.
USFK is awaiting delivery of the formal summary court order, which it then will serve on Davis, Oten said.
“It has to be served to us so we can serve it to him,” said Oten.
Davis is in a U.S. military lock-up at Camp Humphreys awaiting a Sept. 19 court-martial in the bar district case.
The Air Force charged Davis on 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.
The charges stem from actions occurring during a time Davis headed the Songtan Town Patrol, an Air Force police team that patrols the Shinjang-Dong commercial district of bars, restaurants and shops.
Further details were not immediately available Tuesday afternoon, Oten said.
But according to testimony in a June 10 pretrial hearing into the Air Force’s charges against Davis, Korean National Police officers found firearms when, armed with a warrant, they searched an off-base apartment Davis was accused of keeping illegally. Agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations joined in the March 1 search, according to hearing testimony.
Police allegedly found various weapons and ammunition. Air Force special agent Etai Shpak testified at the June hearing that police found two pistols and one shotgun, a rifle, and various types of ammunition.
Among other weapons allegedly found during the raid, Shpak said, were brass knuckles, thumbcuffs and pepper spray. Korean officers seized the weapons, he testified.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military community and activists in the South Korean public await word on whether the secretary of the Air Force will grant Davis’s request that he be allowed to resign instead of facing court-martial in the town patrol case.
On July 6, Davis asked to resign in lieu of court-martial, a procedure known as RILO. If the secretary denies the request, Davis would face court-martial. But if the secretary allows Davis to resign, he would be on “international hold” and barred from leaving South Korea until he had paid the fine or otherwise resolved the weapons charge matter with South Korean authorities, Oten said.
South Korean civic groups on Monday said they have teamed up to press the U.S. military to deny Davis’ resignation request and court-martial him. They said they plan to highlight the Davis case at a protest rally set for 3 p.m. Saturday near Camp Humphreys. The rally initially was scheduled to protest a U.S.-South Korea plan to transform Camp Humphreys into the main U.S. military base in South Korea.
But activist leaders have decided to make the Davis case a central part of Saturday’s events, activist Kim Yong-han told Stars and Stripes on Monday. Kim heads the Task Force To Oppose the Expansion of U.S. Bases in Pyeongtaek.