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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A third soldier accused in connection with a scheme to use stolen banking cards was found guilty of conspiracy to commit larceny during a court-martial Wednesday.

But the seven-member jury acquitted Spc. Cristobal Paulos, who had been assigned as a postal worker with the 19th Adjutant General Company, of 15 counts of larceny and two counts of stealing mail.

Paulos pleaded guilty to unrelated charges of distribution of a controlled substance and two counts of possession. The drug charges were in connection with smoking marijuana and using cocaine.

Both the defense and prosecution centered their cases on the testimony of Pfc. Jerriett Hand, who agreed to testify against Paulos and Pvt. Adrian Lyles in exchange for a pre-trial agreement in his own Jan. 14 court-martial. Hand was sentenced Monday to a bad-conduct discharge, five months in prison and demotion to E-1.

Prosecutor Capt. Blake Williams argued that Hand had no reason to lie during testimony at the other two courts-martial, and that Hand didn’t come to prosecutors seeking a deal.

In questioning Hand on Wednesday, Blake painted a picture of Paulos as the conspiracy leader who used his intimate knowledge of the military postal system to get his co-workers to help him steal money.

Paulos knew of Hand’s financial difficulties, Hand testified, and approached him in July with two envelopes. Hand said Paulos told him the envelopes contained debit cards and personal identification numbers.

Hand testified he and Lyles agreed to use the cards to withdraw cash from various off-base ATMs. Lyles was sentenced in December to reduction to E-1, forfeiture of $867 in pay for four months, restriction for 60 days to his place of duty, and hard labor without confinement for 90 days.

Hand testified Paulos provided him with another card and PIN a few days later and that when that account was drained, Paulos called the bank and activated overdraft protection, allowing Hand to withdraw more money.

Hand and Lyles were caught after investigators viewed images obtained from one of the ATM cameras.

Lyles testified on Paulos’ behalf, saying there was no conspiracy and that, as far as he knew, Paulos was not involved in the thefts.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Capt. Michael Korte argued that testimony from Hand, a convicted felon, should not be enough for the panel to reach a guilty verdict.

“I’m not going to pick up the evidence the prosecution is offering, because they don’t have any,” Korte said. “This is the U.S. government. They have all of these resources to build a case, and they brought you nothing.”

The jury was to begin deliberating a sentence Thursday morning. The maximum penalty Paulos faces is 20½ years’ confinement, a dishonorable discharge, reduction to E-1 and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.


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