Soldier says life threatened for speaking up
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Months before Sgt. Juwan Johnson was found dead on July 4, 2005, from injuries suffered in an alleged gang-initiation ceremony, an investigation was launched into potential gang involvement within his unit — Kaiserslautern’s 66th Transportation Company.
However, nothing apparently came from the investigation conducted while the unit was deployed to Iraq from January 2004 to February 2005.
The probe involved soldiers believed to be members of the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples. Numerous photos of Disciples had been found, along with graffiti and a list of potential gang members, in the soldiers’ living quarters.
According to U.S. Army Europe, a 15-6 (informal) investigation was conducted in late 2004 by the parent unit of the 66th Transportation Company. The investigation was initiated by the commander of the 835th Corps Support Battalion in October 2004, according to a USAREUR statement.
“The investigating officer concluded in his report of investigation that, ‘There is insufficient evidence either validating or disproving the allegation of gang activity within the 66th Transportation Company,’” the statement reads.
A USAREUR spokesman said the 15-6 investigation relates to an ongoing criminal investigation and therefore cannot be released at this time.
Pvt. Nick Pasquale of the 66th Transportation Company said he took the pictures of graffiti and pressed for action. He believed junior-ranking gang members had received preferential treatment from NCOs for various reasons.
Pasquale’s wife had sent an e-mail in late 2004 to Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gravens, then U.S. Army Europe command sergeant major, that said her husband believed there were gang members in the 66th Transportation Company.
“I have indeed received the message in its entirety,” wrote Gravens in an Oct. 13, 2004, reply to Pasquale’s wife, Erica. “I assure you that your concerns will be given a close, hard look by the appropriate leaders.”
While downrange with his company, Pasquale went so far as to write down the names of soldiers in the company whom he believed were Gangster Disciples or wanted to be. Pasquale said he shared all his information with the officer who investigated.
“The only thing that came from the investigation downrange was that I was a disgruntled soldier, causing problems,” Pasquale said. “Then we come back from Iraq and wham, bam a soldier’s dead. I want [Johnson’s] family to know that your son, your husband, the father of your child did not have to die. I want his family to know that he didn’t have to die if someone had done their job and not swept this under the rug.”
Pasquale’s photos of the gang graffiti are now being used in the Johnson murder investigation. Also, several of the 12 soldiers Pasquale named have either been charged with Johnson’s murder or have been witnesses. Pasquale was even the first witness to testify in the Article 32 hearing for Spc. Bobby Morrissette, the first soldier charged in Johnson’s murder.
Since testifying Dec. 5, Pasquale says he has had his life threatened and said he recently found gang graffiti on the door to his barracks room. Four men Pasquale did not recognize approached him one Friday night in December outside his barracks on Kleber Kaserne, he said. Although Pasquale did not know the men, they referred to Pasquale by name. Pasquale told the group he was going to his room to go to sleep at which point, one of the men said, “I hope you make it through the night.”
Pasquale asked what they meant by that, and one said, “Think about it.”
As Pasquale walked away, he heard the men yell, “snitch bitch” and “snitches get stitches,” he said.
Pasquale does not want to go into protective custody — as three other people involved in the case have requested.
“If I do get killed, I don’t want to be another Sgt. Johnson with people wondering, ‘What happened to him? Why?’ ” said Pasquale, who has alarms on his door and sleeps with knives by his side. “I don’t want my mother going through what Sgt. Johnson’s mother’s going through, trying to get answers from the Army.”