Prosecutors: Soldier accused in cab robbery has criminal past
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — An Army private already under base restriction after a March 2005 robbery is one of five soldiers who admitted to beating and robbing a taxi driver on Christmas night, South Korean prosecutors said this week.
Pvt. Kidrem Cortez Porter was restricted to base but not under confinement after being sentenced to 3½ years in prison for the March robbery.
On an initial appeal, his sentence was reduced to one year and six months in prison. The 18-month sentence is pending a hearing date on a final appeal to the Supreme Court of Korea, court officials said.
In the March incident, Porter removed a replica gun from the wall of an off-base club and hid it in the club bathroom, according to court records. Porter and another soldier then fought with South Korean nationals after being confronted, the records said.
His alleged involvement in the Christmas night crime brought some South Korean media outlets to question U.S. Forces Korea’s management of suspected servicemembers.
Army officials said Porter was restricted to his battalion area on base, unless escorted elsewhere for work.
“He was not considered a flight risk, and was not yet sentenced, so he was not confined,” wrote 2nd Infantry Division spokesman Maj. Karl Ivey in response to an e-mail query.
Porter now is under pre-trial military confinement at Camp Humphreys, Ivey said.
“We are currently looking at options that will provide our commanders additional control measures within our legal purview to ensure incidents like this do not occur in the future,” the spokesman said.
On Friday, prosecutors interrogated the soldiers about the Christmas night robbery. Afterward, an official from the Uijeongbu prosecutor’s office said it appeared Porter and the other soldiers each had pre-assigned roles: A 21-year-old private choked the taxi driver in the back seat of the car while a 21-year-old corporal wearing leather gloves hit the driver over the head with a bottle. Another private then stole about $180 and the driver’s cell phone, according to prosecutors and the taxi driver’s statement.
The driver said the soldiers then threw him in the trunk before he escaped and ran to a police station.
Each of the soldiers admitted involvement in the crime, according to a 2nd ID news release Dec. 28.
Of the soldiers questioned about the Christmas robbery, only Porter’s name has been released. The soldiers are from the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, according to 2nd ID officials.