Soldier in South Korea jailed for string of alcohol-fueled incidents
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — A soldier was sentenced Thursday to one year of confinement and a bad-conduct discharge after admitting in a court-martial to a litany of misconduct earlier this year, from being drunk on duty to shoving and kicking military police to cursing at a senior soldier.
Pvt. Zachary E. Scott, 19, of 348th Quartermaster Company within the 501st Sustainment Brigade, pleaded guilty to 25 specifications within eight charges for his actions from April 21 to July 5.
Scott had faced a maximum of 22 years and five months confinement, total forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge. Army Col. Gregory Gross, a military judge, sentenced Scott to 23 months of confinement but a plea agreement in the case guaranteed Scott would face no more than 12 months confinement.
Gross also sentenced Scott, an E-1, to forfeiture of all pay.
In addition to assault, drunken and disorderly conduct and damaging a door in his commander’s office, Scott admitted to repeatedly disobeying an order to stay on base in favor of drinking off base. He told the court he left base on nine days without permission, including trips to Yongsan Garrison and Osan Air Base during three of the four weekends he was supposed to remain at Humphreys.
Scott also admitted to “drinking and making a scene” in a Pyeongtaek bar. He told the court he grabbed the arm of a woman he knew in the bar before being asked to leave by the local owners. Scott told the judge he broke the bar’s door on the way out.
Some of the charges — including drunkenness on duty and failing to report to duty — happened while Scott was assigned to extra work stemming from a 45-day stint of nonjudicial punishment.
“I know I sound like a hypocrite because I violated so many rules,” Scott told Gross, the 6th Judicial District judge, as he asked to stay in the military.
Scott said some of his behavior stemmed from family drug and alcohol problems at home, and the death of his grandmother, who had helped raise him. “I wanted to soak my grief in liquor,” he said.
Scott and his lawyer, Capt. Jack Ko, argued that Scott’s poor judgment was caused by a series of poor choices and alcohol use, and by lack of command attention.
The government’s lawyer, Capt. Dan Goldberg, argued that the soldier had several chances during his time in South Korea to mend his ways, but continued to lower the unit’s morale by disobeying orders and consuming the time of his unit’s senior soldiers, who at one point were put on a schedule to escort the private to and from work to keep an eye on him.
Scott “only put his interests ahead of anything else,” Goldberg argued in closing statements.
Scott’s commander, Capt. Megan Brogden, said she and her staff tried to work with the soldier. One night, Brogden said she picked up Scott after he’d been drinking and took him back to his barracks, where he was supposed to stay unless he had an escort.
Within a few minutes, Scott had left the barracks and gone back to an off-base bar. Brogden testified she tracked him down once again and brought him back home.
Scott did beat one charge, of making a verbal threat to his company commander.
Brogden testified that she felt threatened during a counseling session with Scott on July 5 when she remembered him saying, “What would you do if I took off these ACUs and it was just us?”
Scott testified he never mentioned shedding the rank and insignia of the Army combat uniforms, the Army’s everyday outfit.
In the end, Gross found in favor of the defendant, saying the charge Scott faced and the incident description didn’t match the legal definition of threat under military code.
Scott had been in pre-trial confinement since July 6, or 77 days. He got credit for those days but received no credit from Gross for any restriction to Humphreys prior to his incarceration.