Soldier gets 5 months for selling scopes
November 21, 2008
VICENZA, Italy — A soldier who pleaded guilty to selling two scopes for military assault weapons on e-Bay was sentenced to five months in prison and a loss of three ranks Thursday in a special court-martial.
Col. Jeffery Nance, the military judge, also sentenced Spc. Kalen J. Reisinger to forfeit $500 in pay for five months. Three of the four charges that Reisinger faced were essentially dismissed because of a pretrial agreement.
Civilian defense attorney David Court said his client agreed to plead guilty to two of 10 specifications of selling government property and, in exchange, military prosecutors agreed to not present any evidence on the other charges: larceny, conspiracy and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.
"Because the government produced no evidence, by definition he is not guilty (of the other charges)," Court said.
Reisinger, a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, was assistant armorer for his unit when he found a box of 10 scopes in the armory that weren’t registered to any particular unit. He said he took two of them and opened an e-Bay account. One scope was sold for $242.50 on April 14, 2007. Another sold for $214.50 two days later.
"They could have been sold to an avid hunter or someone far worse," said Capt. Autumn Veatch, one of the military prosecutors, in her arguments during sentencing.
"He betrayed his unit by selling two scopes to the highest bidder."
Veatch argued for a sentence of eight months in prison, loss of two-thirds pay and a bad-conduct discharge. During his turn, Court said he wasn’t going to argue for specific punishments, but called the government’s request "absurd" and "too harsh."
He also noted that the government had eventually recovered the scopes. "He may have made money, but not off the government," Court said.
There were no witnesses presented during the main phase of the three-hour trial and the only evidence presented was a stipulation of fact in which Reisinger detailed his actions.
Two fellow soldiers were called by the defense during the sentencing phase and both offered support for Reisinger.
Each also said the unit’s armory was in "chaos" around the September 2006 time frame when Reisinger first volunteered to take over the duty.
They noted he had no training as an armorer, having served as a combat engineer during the brigade’s previous deployment to Afghanistan in 2005-2006.
Maj. Nick Sternberg, the brigade’s public affairs officer, disputed the characterization of the armory in an interview after the court-martial.
"It was not chaotic," he said. "It was just strained or overwhelmed. We were getting ready for a deployment and there was a lot of stuff coming in."
He said there were no other soldiers in the brigade facing charges similar to Reisinger’s.
Reisinger testified that he came across the box in March 2007 just a few months before his unit was scheduled to deploy again to Afghanistan. Court pointed out during questioning that his client maintained his position as assistant armorer while deployed until April – though he reportedly knew he was under investigation as early as the previous June.
During an unsworn statement, Reisinger apologized to his family and his unit for his actions. And he said he would like to continue with his military career.