Two Marines plead guilty in Camp Foster cab robbery
NAHA, Okinawa — Two Marines pleaded guilty in a Japanese court Monday to robbing a cab driver on Camp Foster in January.
Lance Cpl. Henry Dwayne Morgan, 20, and Lance Cpl. Reginald Q. Lowery Jr., 21, both assigned to Headquarters and Service Battalion, admitted they plotted with a third Marine to rob a cab driver on Camp Foster on Jan. 7.
The third Marine, who hasn’t been named, is believed to have left Okinawa for the United States. He is still being sought, a Japanese prosecutor said Monday. According to the prosecutor, the Marines developed the plot while drinking in their Camp Foster barracks room and called for the cab to pick them up at 1 a.m. Lowery made the phone call and Morgan threatened and robbed the driver, according to the prosecution.
The 62-year-old cabbie handed over a box containing about 5,000 yen ($44) and $5 in U.S. currency. He was not physically harmed.
During the opening hearing in Naha District Court, both Marines, dressed in civilian clothing, offered their apologies and said they had no intention of hurting anyone. They were taken into custody by military police Jan. 27, after an extensive investigation by Okinawa police and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and turned over to Japanese officials on Feb. 10.
Naha District Public Prosecutor Masahisa Yokota said Morgan, who sneaked out of a barracks room window to avoid the Marine on duty, approached the driver, Tetsuo Hamazato, and demanded money while pointing a knife at the driver’s chest.
After the driver handed him the money Morgan fled back into the barracks through the window of another barracks room, Yokota said.
The money was divided among the three, with the unnamed Marine receiving 200 yen and the rest split evenly between Morgan and Lowery, Yokota said. Even though he received less than $2 worth of the stolen money, Yokota said the third Marine was the one who hatched the idea and gave Morgan a knife and a hooded sweater to hide his face.
Yokota said that the driver wants a severe punishment for his attackers.
“I was scared to death and the horror has not left me,” Hamazato said in a statement read by the prosecutor. “I have never imagined before that I would be exposed to such danger on a military base. We taxi drivers, who offer service on military bases, will no longer be able to feel secure on base.”
The robbery occurred in a month with three high-profile robberies of Okinawa cab drivers by Americans. Two of the incidents occurred on Camp Foster.
Three character witnesses — two supervisors and a friend — spoke up for the two Marines during the afternoon court session, stating the Marines had been reliable, hard workers. The next trial session is scheduled for June 7.