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September 2010
Tim Bilecki

Sailor Avoids Charges After Government’s Inability to Prove OHA Fraud in Manila

Larceny (OHA fraud), Dereliction of Duty
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
Navy Petty Officer First Class - E-6
No court martial charges preferred.
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Maximum Sentence:

  • DD
  • 10 years and 6 months in confinement
  • Total forfeiture
  • Reduction to E-1
  • Fine
  • Federal felony conviction
  • Loss of military retirement

A retirement-eligible Sailor was charged with using fraudulent lease documents from the Philippines to establish that his family was living in significantly more expensive housing in Manila than what they were actually living in.

With his retirement on the line and potentially facing a court-martial, the Sailor turned to Mr. Bilecki, an established military defense attorney for UCMJ Article 121 larceny cases, to defend him. The initial investigation revealed that the OHA (Overseas Housing Allowance) discrepancies were discovered by an NCIS audit of service members claiming OHA in the Philippines; however, our client was not provided any documentation of the investigation because charges had not yet been preferred.

Court martial lawyer Tim Bilecki used his extensive contacts in the Philippines to obtain a full copy of the law enforcement investigation in this case and then launched their own independent investigation into the allegations. Having done numerous criminal investigations in the Philippines, the defense team was familiar with the culture, the typical manner in which fraudulent documents are procured, and the manner in which NCIS-Philippines investigates these types of cases.

Based on our investigation, the defense knew that these charges would be nearly impossible for the government to prove without obtaining visas for a significant number of Filipino witnesses to testify in the United States, which is a nearly impossible task. Bilecki also knew that the government’s only other option would be to attempt to take depositions of Filipino witnesses at the US Embassy in Manila. Having previously gone down that road on other cases, the defense knew just how difficult of a task that would be for the government.

Bilecki leveraged the information learned from the independent investigation and educated the prosecutors on how difficult this case would be to prove at trial. The prosecution relented to the defense position, and no court-martial charges were preferred against our client.

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