U.S. vs. E-6. NCO Charged with BAH Fraud. Thorough Trial Preparation Reveals Minor Miscommunication, Not Blatant Lie. Results in Nothing More than Letter of Reprimand.
Their client was an IRR Soldier who was assigned to HRC-St. Louis. He was charged with BAH fraud because he changed his permanent address/home of record from a former residence in Louisiana, to his mother's address in Los Angeles after he got divorced and no longer resided in Louisiana. The client was charged under Articles 107, 121, and 132. His former chain of command assisted him in the process, and allowed him a break in service so that he could change his address and be in compliance with the regulations. A new chain of command took over and noticed that his address in Los Angeles was a business address. They questioned him and the client showed them his lease agreement between his mother's husband and himself, and explained that he was using his mother's business address for mail, which was easier for her. Defense viewed this case as a reserve issue with no DFAS input, and the Defense did not want to give the Government time to perfect its case. Therefore, Defense did not object to the Government's immediate request for trial. The active-component trial counsel did not understand the reserve issues regarding the purposes, requirements and methods for updating addresses, and reserve component mobilizations and releases from active duty. Ultimately, the Government could not overcome the fact that DFAS never notified my client or his chain of command that he had done anything wrong. The client was convicted of false official statement. On sentencing, Mr. Gapasin argued that his client's UCMJ orders were not drafted pursuant to AR 27-10 to allow for confinement. This was a strategic move made just prior to the Court's sentence of the client. Mr. Gapasin and military counsel, Captain Krista Carpenter, essentially argued that the Court did not have the authority to sentence the client. Although the judge disagreed and ruled that Mr. Gapasin's client had been properly extended for UCMJ purposes, the Court only sentenced Mr. Gapasin's client to a letter of reprimand.