Yongsan soldier jailed, discharged for using stolen debit cards to withdraw cash
January 16, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A 19-year-old postal company supply clerk was given a bad-conduct discharge Monday, sentenced to five months in prison and demoted to E-1 for using stolen debit cards and identification numbers to withdraw nearly $1,600 from ATMs last July.
Pfc. Jerriett Hand of the 19th Adjutant General Postal Company pleaded guilty to 15 charges of larceny, one charge of conspiracy to commit larceny and one charge of wrongfully opening the mail. According to testimony and court documents, Hand and two other post office workers conspired to steal two debit cards and their identification numbers when they arrived in the mail at Camp Red Cloud and withdraw money from ATMs near Seoul.
Hand, who chose to be tried by a judge alone, tearfully told judge Lt. Col. John Head before sentencing that he was sorry for hurting other soldiers and for embarrassing his family.
“Sixteen hundred dollars wasn’t worth missing the birth of my first child,” said Hand, whose daughter was born three months ago as he awaited trial in South Korea. He asked the judge to let him remain in the U.S. Army.
“Being a soldier is all I know,” he said.
In response to questions from Head on Monday, Hand said another post office worker approached him one day at work with two envelopes containing a debit card and identification number. Hand and a third coworker later took the subway to a stop halfway between Camp Red Cloud and Seoul and withdrew money from a convenience store ATM.
A photo taken by the ATM was used to identify Hand.
Hand used a second stolen debit card to withdraw money from another ATM a few days later. When the ATM wouldn’t give him as much money as he requested because the bank account was empty, his coworker called the bank and asked for overdraft protection so Hand could withdraw more money.
Hand said he stole the money because he had sent money home to his sick, unemployed father and needed money to make a loan payment. When his account went into overdraft, Hand’s noncommissioned officer in charge told him that he could get kicked out of the military for having financial problems.
Hand, who split the stolen money with the other two soldiers, used $500 of his share on a down payment for his pregnant fiance’s apartment near Fort Campbell, Ky.
Hand said he repaid the stolen money and related bank penalties.
Four of Hand’s supervisors said that Hand was responsible, respectful and a hard worker.
Sgt. Jeremy Johnson said Hand, who was transferred to the 19th AG headquarters at Yongsan Garrison while awaiting trial, has been trusted to deal with names and Social Security numbers since arriving in Seoul but doesn’t handle mail.
“He still has the same access as he had before,” Johnson said.
Hand is the second of three soldiers to be tried on charges related to the scheme.
Another soldier, Pvt. Adrian Lyles, was sentenced in December to a reduction in rank 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.
The third soldier is to be court-martialed Wednesday.