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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An Air Force captain assigned as a lawyer in the base legal office here pleaded innocent Monday to allegations she bilked the Air Force of $13,000 in housing allowance by giving the wrong address for her spouse.

Capt. Cho Cho Lassey faces charges of filing a false official statement, dereliction of duty, larceny and conduct unbecoming an officer, actions that allegedly occurred between June 2002 and June 2003.

Lassey is assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

In court-martial proceedings that opened Monday, Lt. Col. Rodger A. Drew, military judge, granted Lassey’s request that she be tried by a judge instead of a jury.

“Your honor, this is a case of lies and fraud by Capt. Cho Cho Lassey,” Air Force Capt. Jeff Scoular said during the prosecution’s opening statement.

Lassey was stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base in 2002, when she learned her next duty station would be Osan, according to the prosecution. She reported for duty at Osan in June 2002.

In February 2002, Lassey married a French physician.

In a form used to obtain basic allowance for housing, Lassey gave their address as Los Angeles, her residence at the time of their marriage.

After their marriage, however, her husband returned to France. Lassey allegedly did not inform the Air Force of the address change. As a result, the Air Force paid her a $13,000 housing allowance that she should not have been paid given her husband’s move.

Monday’s proceedings heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense, and testimony from two witnesses.

Prosecuting Lassey are Maj. Matt Jarreau, trial counsel, of Yokota Air Base, Japan, and Scoular, assistant trial counsel. Like Lassey, Scoular is assigned to the 51st Fighter Wing staff judge advocate’s office here.

Two attorneys are representing Lassey: Frank J. Spinner, a retired Air Force lawyer and lieutenant colonel, and Air Force Capt. Shane Cohen, also of the 51st Fighter Wing staff judge advocate’s office.

In his opening statement, Spinner said that while some of the facts in the case “are not contested,” some “inferences” from those facts were nevertheless incorrect.

“Much of the government’s case is a circumstantial matter,” Spinner told the judge.

In the defense’s opening statement, Spinner said an Air Force finance official told Lassey she should list the Los Angeles address; that there’s no evidence she knew her husband’s residence in France would make a difference in the allowance to which she would be entitled; and that she never intended to commit larceny.

Air Force Special Agent Lauren A. McDonald testified she interviewed Lassey at Osan while investigating housing allowance fraud allegations.

Authorities here received an anonymous letter that questioned the housing allowance payments to Lassey, triggering their investigation, McDonald said.

Lassey told the investigator she had been instructed by the Air Force finance official to use the Los Angeles address, McDonald testified.


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