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Case of pub crawl by US Marines in Bogota to continue in 2018

By CAROL ROSENBERG | Miami Herald | Published: December 31, 2017

MIAMI (Tribune News Service) — The U.S. military has yet to decide what to do about three Marine officers who were part of a pub crawl in Bogota, Colombia, that involved prostitutes, drugs and the theft of government property while on overseas assignment for the U.S. Southern Command.

“The case is not closed out yet because the officers were ordered to show cause at a Board of Inquiry,” said Gina Levy, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps Forces Command. “The boards will run consecutively; the last of which should be completed at the end of January.”

According to a report of an internal investigation into the wild night last February, the three officers ventured into an off-limits section of Bogota, violated a 1 a.m. curfew and brought women back to their rooms at their hotel.

At least two of the officers blacked out in their rooms, apparently in the company of two local women, while another officer drew cash advances off his U.S. government travel card and brought two prostitutes to his room, according to the report. Some of the Feb. 3-4 activity was captured on hotel security cameras. The three officers walked four women through the hotel lobby about 4:30 a.m., past fellow Marine officers who were mustering for a van ride to the airport at the end of the conference.

Levy did not elaborate on who appointed a Board of Inquiry, a military panel that provides an officer an opportunity to defend their commission by explaining why they should not be ejected from military service.

Nor was she able to say where the first such board was held, in the case of Maj. Andrew L. Mueller, although she confirmed it took place in December.

Pentagon regulations show that, unless someone successfully invokes national security, the boards are open to media coverage.

But Levy said by email Saturday that the other two officers in the case, Marine Col. Roger T. McDuffie and Maj. Mauricio Saenz, would have their boards at Camp Lejeune, N.C. Jan. 8-12 and Parris Island, S.C., Jan. 22-24, respectively.

Until the episode McDuffie, a Harrier pilot, was chief of operations at the Southern Command’s U.S. Marines affiliate. Saenz was an exercise planner, and Mueller was described as a theater security cooperation planner.

After all three inquiries are complete, Levy said, “the board will make a recommendation via the chain of command to the office of the secretary of the navy at which time the determination will be final.”

©2017 Miami Herald
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