Fort Hood Soldiers Arrested In Prostitution Sting


By Debbie Gregory.

A sting conducted by the Bell County Sheriff’s Department resulted in the arrests of 13 Fort Hood soldiers who now face charges of solicitation of prostitution.

The men responded to online ads offering sexual service in exchange for money. The locations and times were arranged via text messages.

The soldiers, who were among 20 individuals arrested in the operation, ranged in rank from private to major. Each soldier has been released on bond, ranging from $1,500 to $2500.

“Allegations such as these are taken seriously as they run counter to Army values,” Tom Rheinlander, director of Fort Hood Public Affairs, said in a statement. “As always, we are supportive of local authorities and will cooperate fully. Fort Hood will refrain from commenting further given that this is an ongoing investigation.”

The men have been charged with solicitation of prostitution and two may face felony charges for specifically responding to ads for prostitutes under the age of 18.

Although solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor with a punishment ranging from a fine to jail time, the soldiers could face additional punishment or adverse impacts on their military careers.

Pandering and prostitution is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which, if found guilty at court-martial, could result in a maximum penalty that includes a dishonorable discharge and a year of confinement.

The soldiers arrested were identified as:

Sgt. Carlos Castillo, 1st Cavalry Division

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ernest Grant, Warrior Transition Unit

Staff Sgt. Natalion Seymour, 2nd Chemical Battalion

Staff Sgt. Kendrick Davis, 57th Signal Battalion

Master Sgt. Stanley Ervin, 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

Pvt. Xavier Horne, E Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment

Warrant Officer 1 Gregory Hughes, 1st Combat Service Support Battalion

Maj. Donta White, 89th Military Police Brigade

Spc. Jimmie Joiner, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment

Pfc. Adrian Upshawn, 3rd Cavalry Regiment

Sgt. Michael Culpepper, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment

Spc. Christopher John Webster, III Corps

Joseph Bartolomei

Dontae Johnson

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Soldier’s Conviction on Comments about Obama Upheld


By Debbie Gregory.

Missouri resident Eric L. Rapert left the Army under a cloud, court-martialed on charges that including making what sounded like racist threats against President Barack Obama.

Now the nation’s highest military appeals court has upheld the ruling.

The case defined the boundaries governing free speech by members of the military, underscoring that soldiers are more restricted than civilians when it comes to the First Amendment.

“The right of free speech in the armed services is not unlimited and must be brought into balance with the paramount consideration of providing an effective fighting force for the defense of our country,” Judge Kevin A. Ohlson noted.

In its 3-2 decision, the military appeals court upheld Rapert’s court martial verdict in regards to his remarks against Obama on the night of the 2012 election. At the time, Rapert was an Army enlisted man with the rank of specialist who was serving in Hawaii.

Witnesses said Rapert had voiced anger that “that (n-word) won this election” and then made what sounded like threats. Although he later said that he was joking, Rapert said:

“I might have to go back home … and break out the KKK robe that was handed down to me by my grandfather and go put one order up and make it my last order to kill the president.”

There is no evidence that Rapert or his family had any connection to the Ku Klux Klan. That’s not to say that Rapert isn’t still a bad guy. In 2013, Rapert was convicted of committing a lewd act with a child, assault of a child consummated by battery, and sexual abuse of a child.

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If Found Guilty, Bergdahl Could Face Life in Prison


By Debbie Gregory.

As a result of his 2009 disappearance from his base in Afghanistan, it was announced that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl will face general court-martial, the highest level of trial in the military justice system.

Bergdahl, 29, is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, and could receive a sentence of life in prison. While desertion can carry a death penalty, Army officials have said that will not occur in Bergdahl’s case. No American service member has been executed for desertion since World War II.

Lt. Col. Mark Visger, who oversaw a two-day hearing for Bergdahl’s case in September,
had recommended that Bergdahl get a lower form of judicial proceeding known as a special court-martial, which would have given a maximum penalty of 12 months of confinement.

Bergdahl’s return was secured through a prisoner swap in 2014, which resulted in the release of five Taliban officials from the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Bergdahl broke his silence last week when he participated in a podcast on “Serial.” He said that within 20 minutes of leaving his base, he had second thoughts, and realized he would face a “hurricane of wrath” from commanding officers. Berghdahl hoped he could find some intelligence that would allow the Army to go easier on him, but got lost in the hills, and then he was captured by the Taliban.

“Doing what I did is me saying that I am like, I don’t know, Jason Bourne. I had this fantastic idea that I was going to prove to the world that I was the real thing,” Bergdahl said.

Jason Bourne is a fictional character who is an elite Top Secret Special Forces operative in a series of novels by Robert Ludlum.

Jon Thurman, a former enlisted specialist in Bergdahl’s infantry company, said that he wasn’t surprised by the Army going forward with a general court-martial. Thurman, who was interviewed for “Serial,” speculated that Bergdahl’s comments in the podcast could hurt his case.

“When that first episode aired, I mean, he sort of hung himself by saying that he walked off and was kinda thinking about doing his own Jason Bourne thing,” Thurman said. “The guilty verdict might come from just that.”

An arraignment hearing will be held at a later date at Fort Bragg, Army officials said. Bergdahl is assigned to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, with a desk job.

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What Will Bergdahl’s Fate Be? Military Connection

What Will Bergdahl's Fate Be?

By Debbie Gregory.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, who led the investigation of Bowe Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture in Afghanistan, said he doesn’t think the Army sergeant should go to prison.

Bergdahl alleges that he walked away from his post as part of a plan to express his concerns about his unit’s leadership. While Dahl admits Bergdahl’s concerns were off the mark, “he felt it was his duty to intervene,” said Dahl.

It’s alleged that Bergdahl’s plan was to travel the 19 miles from his post to the forward operating base, sparking a search and creating a “PR event” to catch the attention of someone at the top of the chain of command.

Instead of reaching his destination, Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban. His capture and eventual release cost the U.S. five Taliban commanders as part of a prisoner exchange. It also cost his fellow soldiers a grueling and dangerous 45-day search.

Bergdahl was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. The outcome of his Article 32 hearing will help determine if he will face a court-martial.

The prisoner exchange, contrary to U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists, drew a lot of public criticism.

At the hands of his captors, Bergdahl was beaten and kept in a cage for three years, and attempted to escape on multiple occasions.

“Nobody knows Sgt. Bergdahl’s story,” said Terrence Russell, senior program manager for the Joint Personnel Recovery Center’s Defense Department office. The former Air Force survival instructor, who has done 125 debriefings with former hostages and POWs from the Gulf War on, said, “I hope someday the world gets to understand how difficult Sgt. Bergdahl had it.”

Bergdahl has several injuries that were more than likely caused by being kept in a crouched position for extended periods.

Bergdahl’s lead attorney, Eugene Fidell, said Bergdahl never intended to avoid his duty and that his case should be treated like a one-day AWOL stint, which he said carries a penalty of 30 days’ confinement.

If Bergdahl is tried and convicted of the misbehavior before the enemy charge, he could get life in prison.

The presiding officer will forward his recommendations to Gen. Robert Abrams, the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command. Abrams will decide whether the case should be referred to a court-martial or be resolved in another manner.

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Military Connection: Army Sergeant Jailed for Running Prostitution Ring


By Debbie Gregory.

The Army’s honor has been tarnished by a GI prostitution ring at Ford Hood, ironically led by a former advocate for sexual assault victims.

Sgt 1st Class Gregory Lynn McQueen Jr. was dishonorably discharged from the Army, and sentenced to two years in prison. McQueen initially recruited three young female soldiers into the ring. McQueen was planning to expand his “business” with a scheme to recruit GI prostitutes to service clients at swinger and stripper parties.

As part of a plea bargain, McQueen, a 21-year Army Veteran, admitted to pandering, attempted pandering, conspiracy to solicit a prostitute, failure to obey an order, dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, adultery and prostitution.

Also plagued by a similar scandal, the Air Force dismissed its sexual assault prevention officer, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, when he was accused of assaulting a woman in Virginia. Word that McQueen was running a prostitution ring broke just one week later.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Dice said that the assault prevention program is now broken, due to a lack of trust. Dice added that soldiers felt no one in the program, or Fort Hood’s leadership, cared about their problems.

Prosecutor Capt. Casey Biggerstaff said McQueen exploited weaknesses he saw in the women and those he sought to tempt with their sexual favors.

Friends and family described a different McQueen, one who has developed a strong faith in God and has been a good son and husband.

“He’s a good man, he’s a good man,” said his father, Gregory McQueen Sr. of Dallas. “

This isn’t McQueen’s first expulsion from the Army. Two years after joining the Army Reserve, he was expelled for failing a physical fitness test, bouncing checks, and failing to show up for duty. McQueen became a car salesman, but returned to the Army seven years later. He was deployed three times. In between his first and second tour, McQueen sold cars. After his third tour, he became a top Army recruiter in Georgia, signing up between eight and 13 people per month.

McQueen’s defense cited his work as a recruiter was good for the Army, but the prosecutors saw past the innocence and into his darkness.

“Sgt. McQueen was a salesman with a simple plan,” Biggerstaff said in his closing argument, “a plan to turn cash-strapped young females into tricks.”

Following the sentencing, McQueen, dressed in fatigues, handcuffs and leg irons, stared out a glass door at a van that would take him to a lockup in Belton, where he’ll await transfer to the stockade.

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Military Connection: Army Sergeant Jailed for Running Prostitution Ring: By Debbie Gregory