Supply sergeant guilty of trading military property for chips, beer
Stars and Stripes March 2, 2006
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Army Staff Sgt. Willie C. White was reduced one pay grade to sergeant Tuesday after being found guilty of wrongful disposition of military property.
A six-member panel also found White not guilty of a related larceny charge.
In 2004, White, a supply sergeant with the 464th Medical Company (Dental), returned military property to Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores without receipts and received credit in the form of AAFES gift cards. The items returned were valued at around $2,500 and included blank DVDs, batteries and about 20 CamelBaks.
The AAFES gift cards, which do not require the purchaser’s signature at the time of sale, were used to buy dozens of items such as beer, brandy and potato chips.
“Are these the types of items that a person purchases for the military?” asked prosecutor Capt. Jocelyn Doehling during her closing argument.
The prosecution argued that White used a government credit card to purchase some of the items he later returned to AAFES. Other items were purchased at a self-service supply center, the prosecution said.
But because each item did not have an individualized serial number, there was no evidence to prove that the items White bought with the government credit card were the exact items he returned to AAFES. Without such evidence, there was no way to say that what White returned was indeed military property, White’s defense counsel argued.
“No one can say these triple A batteries bought with the Impac card are the same ones that were returned,” said David Court, White’s defense attorney.
After the panel found White guilty of the wrongful disposition charge, fellow soldiers testified on his behalf. The soldiers characterized him as an “ace NCO” and “an excellent supply person.” After learning that White had been found guilty, both soldiers testified they would gladly work with him again and would deploy with him.
White faced a maximum sentence of reduction to E-1, bad-conduct discharge, confinement for 12 months and forfeiture of two-thirds of his monthly pay for 12 months.
In an unsworn statement, the 39-year-old combat veteran told the panel he would like to stay in the military and that he did not want to go to jail. Although reduced to the rank of sergeant, White avoided being discharged and serving time in a confinement facility.