VILSECK, Germany — The former treasurer of the Kaiserslautern Branch of the Gangster Disciples is a key witness in the government’s case against one of several military members allegedly responsible for the fatal beating of a soldier during a gang initiation in 2005.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. T. Saraglou, the former treasurer, testified at an Article 32 hearing Monday for Army Spc. Bobby Morrissette at Vilseck. Neither Saraglou nor prosecutors would provide Saraglou’s first name.
Morrissette, 25, who is assigned to the 1st Cargo Transfer Company in Grafenwöhr, is charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, participation in gang initiation rituals, indecent acts, impeding an investigation, impeding trial by court-martial and willfully disobeying an officer.
The charges stem from the death of Army Sgt. Juwan Johnson, who died after a "jump in" beating by members of the Gangster Disciples.
This is the second Article 32 for Morrissette.
Last year, a military judge disqualified prosecutors and the convening authority in the case for not following protocol during the investigation into Johnson’s death.
The disqualification surrounded a December 2005 interview of Morrissette in which prosecutors and investigators did not follow proper procedure.
The judge, however, did not dismiss the charges against Morrissette.
On Monday, Saraglou said he did not strike Johnson during the initiation because he was recovering from surgery but Morrissette hit and kicked the victim.
The muscular airman, who studies tae kwon do and jujitsu, said the government gave him immunity from prosecution for his role in the attack but that he feared the gang will seek retribution for his testimony.
In June 2005 there was a gang meeting where personal information was collected, he said.
"They said it was for being able to contact each other in case something happens to any of us especially since we are going downrange so often… so we can help our brothers and their next of kin stateside. It had addresses and telephone numbers," he said.
"Does it worry you now?" asked prosecutor Capt. Derrick Grace.
"Every single day," Saraglou replied.
When Johnson was found dead in his barracks room on the morning after the jump in, Saraglou said he panicked and disposed of the clothes he’d worn the night before.
Several weeks later the Kaiserslautern gang leader, former Ramstein airman Rico Williams, came to Saraglou’s house to collect money he was holding for the gang. Gang members paid $60 a month each in dues, he said.
"He asked to see the little safe I had bought from the PX. He wanted to see how much money was in it ($200 to $300 and 400 euros). He said he needed it," he said.
When he was a member of the gang, Saraglou said he’d been punched by a lower ranking airman but did not retaliate because the man outranked him in the gang.
Since Johnson’s death, Saraglou said he’d received several calls from a person who just stays on the line breathing.
"It is an out-of-area call. That is still going on. It has never stopped," he said.