Last week we reported on the story of Col. James Johnson who faced 27 military charges ranging from fraud to bigamy, and who could have been sent to prison for decades.It turned out things went far better for the colonel than anyone expected, and despite the list of allegations against him, he walked out of court yesterday a free man allowed to keep his job and fined $300,000.
David Rising at the Associated Press reports that Johnson will face five years in prison if the fine goes unpaid.
This is how he accrued 27 separate charges under military law:
A West Point graduate and the son of a lieutenant general, Johnson assumed command of the 173rd in 2008, three years after he’d deployed to Iraq and allegedly begun a relationship with an Iraqi woman.
The woman’s father was a Kurdish maths teacher who tipped Johnson off to impending attacks and with whom the colonel developed an ongoing rapport.
When Johnson took command of the 173rd, the girl’s family was in the Netherlands and he would allegedly visit her there and take trips around the world — billing tens-of-thousands of dollars to his government credit card.
Prosecutors say he then gave the family a mobile phone that racked up $80,000 in fees and provided the father a salary as a “cultural advisor”.
He then allegedly billed the military 60-grand for a payment to the dad for imaginary goods and services — then things got downright crazy.
While he was still married to his wife, Johnson sent her back to the states, married the Iraqi woman in Montana, moved her into his quarters in Italy, and kicked his wife off his health insurance plan.
That last move proved too much, for while recovering from surgery in New York Mrs. Johnson found she wasn’t covered and called authorities.
“He was spinning out of control,” she said. “I saw no one else was going to stop him.”
She sat in the courtroom, with Johnson’s two estranged children and Nancy Montgomery at Stars and Stripes reports during one break she leaned in and said to him, “You’re a pathetic human being.”
Johnson’s father is a retired brigadier general and the court marshal was presided over by five colonels.
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