Denver, CO Martial Law Blog

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Deserter Discovered After 35 Years

Q: Is there a defense to a desertion or AWOL charge?

Most people of a given age remember where they were when they first heard the news that the Challenger space shuttle exploded in January, 1986.

While a vision of that disaster is burned into the collective American conscience, it was only one of a string of French and American rocket ship launches that had gone bad in the mid-1980s, prompting some intelligence officers at the time to wonder if an Air Force officer with top secret security clearance who had mysteriously disappeared in 1983 and was sought for desertion could have had something to do with the disasters.

Desertion and AWOL charges are very serious and are generally met with a disciplinary hearing, typically a court-martial.

In July 1983, the officer who had “Top Secret/Single Scope Background Investigation” clearance "mysteriously disappeared" leaving many to wonder whether he was AWOL – – absent without leave – – or was abducted by or defected to the then-USSR to work against the interests of the United States. He was officially declared a deserter in late 1983.

Thirty-five years later, amid an alleged passport fraud investigation, the deserter has been found in California where he has been living ever since under an assumed name. When apprehended, he reportedly not only admitted his true name but also that he deserted from the Air Force because he was "depressed" about being in it, "so he left" and obtained a fake identity.

A civilian military court martial defense attorney can make a big difference in the outcome of desertion charges and the punishment imposed. There is essentially no real legal defense to desertion and the reason for the desertion is generally not considered when doling out the punishment.  Nevertheless, an attorney can tell your story and present you in the best light possible in an effort to lessen the consequences of the desertion even if you ultimately do end up pleading not guilty.

If you face desertion charges or are currently away from the military unit, the firm of Aviso Law. can help you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our offices in Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado, we represent service members of all ranks, in all branches, stationed anywhere in the world.


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