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September 2022
Tim Bilecki

Marine SSgt Facing $285,000 BAH Fraud Enters into Guilty Plea, Retires as LCpl

BAH Fraud (x2), False Official Statement (x2), Dereliction of Duty
Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California
Marine Corps Staff Sergeant – E-6
Guilty plea negotiated to plead guilty to one specification of larceny and not guilty to all other charges. 30 days confinement, reduction to E-3, no punitive discharge. Marine able to retire.

Justice requires a competent defense for the accused, whether they have made a mistake or not. That’s because the prosecution will spare no expense to make an example out of a service member and the more disproportionate the penalty, the better example they make. This is the case of a Marine Corps Staff Sergeant who found himself entangled in one of the more complicated Basic Housing Allowance (BAH) and Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) fraud cases that we have seen.

The Marine Staff Sergeant came under the scrutiny of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Resident Agency (NCISRA) in Okinawa, Japan. He was accused of stealing BAH and OHA, which are intended to support service members with dependents, by concealing the fact that he was no longer living with his spouse. Remarkably, the higher rates resulted in a staggering $285,000 in entitlement payments that he was accused of being ineligible to receive.

The facts of the case were complicated in that his actions spanned multiple locations, including the United States, Japan, and Spain. The prosecution had meticulously accumulated over 2,000 pages of documentation, and at first glance, the evidence stacked against him seemed insurmountable. Yet, a competent defense is what justice demands, and Bilecki left no stone unturned to that end.

Military investigators don’t always make mistakes and overstep proper procedure, but they sure as hell do it a lot. Enough that Bilecki, with his extensive experience, knew exactly where to look. The team uncovered various inconsistencies and discrepancies that threatened to alter the course of the trial. Even when the defense faced the setback of the spouse’s crucial disposition being canceled in Spain, Bilecki persisted on behalf of his client and discovered new information that, yet again, had the potential to alter the course of the trial.

With the prosecution now on their heels, Bilecki moved in to negotiate a highly favorable plea deal that the overwhelming evidence would have suggested was unthinkable at the start of the trial. He served a mere 30 days in a minimum-security military brig and nowhere near the lengthy sentence originally sought by the prosecution. Moreover, he only received a reduction in rank to E-3 and was able to retire from the Marine Corps with no punitive discharge.

That outcome was remarkable for the newly re-minted Lance Corporal. While he did indeed make a mistake and punishment was appropriate, being able to tell others that you retired from the Marine Corps as a Lance Corporal means one hell of a story abounds out there somewhere. Had Bilecki not gotten involved, Terminal Lance would have likely suffered a far worse fate and a career destroyed.

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