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BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Pfc. William L. Traver Jr.’s court-martial came down to weighing four years of soldiering against three weeks as a member of Baumholder’s Rathaus Gang

“More than anything, he wants to stay in military,” said Maj. Richard Hatfield, Traver’s defense attorney, who asked the jury Friday for a sentence that balanced his client’s misconduct with his contributions to the Army.

In the end, the six-man panel of two officers and four senior NCOs apparently agreed that Traver’s potential is far greater than his crimes.

The panel took only about 30 minutes to sentence Traver to a reprimand, reduction in rank to E-1, 90 days’ hard labor without confinement, followed by 100 days of confinement.

That sentence, handed down late Friday, was far less than both the possible maximum (17 years, 3 months), or the sentence recommended by prosecutors (two years), plus reduction in rank to E-1, a bad-conduct discharge and total forfeiture of benefits.

Traver, a mechanic with 47th Forward Support Battalion, 1st Armored Division, was convicted Friday morning of conspiracy to commit robbery and being incapacitated for duty.

The panel found him not guilty of robbery or of distributing MDMA, known as Ecstasy. Traver also was convicted on multiple counts of using Ecstasy and marijuana.

A charge of being absent without leave was dropped after the defense presented evidence that Traver had cleared his Baumholder assignment, though he never made it to a new duty station at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Before sentencing, witnesses filled in the details of what had been, up to that time, a reconstruction of his involvement in the Rathaus Gang.

That group of at least 12 soldiers and a number of Germans spent the summer of 2005 using and selling drugs, stealing government property and robbing a taxi driver, until the leaders were arrested after Zachary Watson burned down part of Baumholder’s Rathaus, or government center.

In the sentencing phase, prosecutor Maj. Tyson McDonald argued that instead of moving to Fort Bliss or preparing to deploy with the 47th FSB, Traver had opted for a “self-approved vacation, doing drugs and planning violent crimes.” Convicted gang members Watson and Brett Brown testified Thursday that Traver was the one who planned the robbery of the taxi driver, Helmut Jung, then ended up with the stolen money.

However, Jung himself contradicted part of the testimony, stating that Pvt. Samuel Bell III actually took the money while Watson assaulted him.

Defense attorneys promoted an image of Traver more as a naive bystander, and Watson described Traver as meeting the textbook definition of a moron, and one of his willing followers.

The pivotal testimony may have been about who Traver was before the Rathaus Gang.

“The three weeks that happened last summer is not who I am,” Traver wrote in an unsworn statement read by his attorney, Capt. Lisa Simon.

Traver’s father, William Lee Traver Sr., described a disciplined young man who grew up in Pennsylvania working hard in the family quarry until he enlisted.

“I respect what you’ve done … respect the verdict, but I ask you to see the person I see,” the senior Traver told the panel.

Simon and lead defense attorney Maj. Richard Hatfield brought in Traver’s former commander, Capt. Ramon Salas and former section sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Cesar Alvizo, to testify on Traver’s behalf.

Alvizo called Traver one of the best soldiers and most advanced mechanics he had during 47th FSB’s Iraq deployment in 2003 and 2004.

Traver was willing to take night jobs and volunteer for dangerous duty, such as recovering vehicles damaged in fighting.

But under questioning by McDonald, Alvizo conceded he was unable to intervene after he saw Traver “going down the wrong path … falling under the influence of the wrong people.”

Asked by McDonald if a second-enlistment soldier such as Traver wasn’t required to be a leader instead of a follower, Alvizo replied, “He tried.”

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