Fighting for the truth . . . exposing the corrupt
WHY IS THE BRASS AT FORT BLISS TRYING TO BREAK THIS OFFICER'S WILL? WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO HIDE?
He was rated "the best CW2, personnel warrant officer, in the United States Army, bar none." His OER senior rater, COL Jeffrey W. Gault, called him "tremendously talented," and said his "personal and professional credentials are impeccable." The former NCO and veteran of nearly a quarter century of military service was called a "gifted leader, a model soldier," and was recommended for promotion "immediately."
That was three years ago.
Today, CW2 Luis Rodriguez-Martinez, faces court-martial on what he says are trumped-up charges. His career destroyed, financially broken, his wife Maria suicidal, the top-notch warrant officer clings to his faith in God and his indomitable will that some how "justice" will prevail.
The long nightmare for Rodriguez-Martinez began in the fall of 1997. According to the chief warrant officer, FBI and U.S. Customs agents were investigating a corrupt INS official. During March 1998, law enforcement officials set up a series of undercover operations, monitored by audio and video.
"A soldier with whom I had a business association outside the military was apprehended and later pleaded guilty to bribing a customs official," the Hispanic officer said. "Due to my association with that soldier, I was extensively questioned on numerous occasions. The first time was with my consent, but later it was without - and even though I requested military counsel during these interrogations - it was denied. The FBI and CID wanted me to corroborate their theories, but I in good conscience, could not lie.
"The questioning continued again and again until finally, in August 1998, I was forced to hire a civilian attorney in an effort to stop these interrogations.They stopped harassing me for a while only to resume again months later, but in more subtle and sophisticated ways.
"In April 1999, an administrative elimination board was conducted to consider the elimination of the soldier who pleaded guilty to bribery," Rodriguez-Martinez said. "During those board proceedings, I testified for the defense in my capacity as a military personnel technician. I was there to testify that numerous regulations were violated. I stated the fact that the soldier's requests for personnel actions were mishandled by the Staff Judge Advocate and that the chain-of-command at Fort Bliss was illegally stalling his request for retirement in anticipation of a civil conviction."
Court documents show the soldier, Sergeant Major Juan Rosario, was charged with importing marijuana from Mexico and trying to bribe a U.S. Customs Service inspector at the border. The former top-ranking enlisted man pleaded guilty to the charges and is serving a 57-month federal prison sentence in Texas.
Up until Rosario's guilty plea, Chief Rodriguez-Martinez, testifying for his fellow Hispanic soldier, had only been harassed. Now he faced charges of his own.
"It was during board proceedings that an FBI agent told military officials that during their investigation they had obtained video and audio evidence of my involvement in the case. Also it was alleged that during interrogation I had admitted to certain things that I adamantly denied then and now."
The chief said a CID report echoed the FBI agent's allegations of his involvement by stressing there was "incriminating evidence" against Rodriguez-Martinez in the form of "video and audio recorded evidence."
"During pretrial interviews earlier this year, and also on cross-examination during my Article 32 hearing, FBI and CID agents ADMITTED they NEVER had the alleged physical evidence against me, but the damage to my military career had already been done! Military decision-makers at Fort Bliss as well as those at the Department of the Army made prejudicial decisions against me based on the uncorroborated "evidence" and "misstatements of facts."
"On May 7, 1999, Major General Denis D. Cavin initiated erroneous and improper elimination proceedings against me, utilizing the information provided by the FBI and CID. In addition, my already-approved retirement of August 1, 1999 was unlawfully revoked based upon the misinformation and misstatement of facts by the FBI, the CID and the chain of command."
Rodriguez-Martinez told MilitaryCorruption.com that his civilian attorney told him the El Paso, Texas district attorney had threatened to charge the chief warrant officer with "having knowledge that a crime was being committed and not reporting it." But that never happened. No charges were preferred.
"The evidence they alleged could not be produced because IT NEVER EXISTED and the sworn statement of their star government witness exculpated me," Rodriguez-Martinez said.
Since then, the chief said he has been served twice with "unlawful" elimination proceedings. He contends the Fort Bliss Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) has tried to "break" his will by forcing the warrant officer to spend thousands of dollars in "sham" elimination proceedings which he claims the Government never intended to go forward with.
"The military has offered me deals in exchange for corroborating their theories against someone else. I refused to accept those offers - I never would perjure myself for any reason. After three years - albeit with NO physical evidence - I am being court-martialed for offenses they wanted ME to attribute to OTHERS. If they had as much "evidence" as they falsely portrayed they had, WHY did they want me to corroborate such evidence? The Government does not have any evidence today that they did not have three years ago. Why did they not arrest me then?"
It wasn't until March 30, 2000 that military officials decided to prefer charges against Rodriguez-Martinez.
"These charges, I believe, are RETALIATORY in nature and were prompted by my decision to make a formal complaint to the Inspector General (IG) about their unethical practices," the chief said. "For three years, the SJA and my chain-of-command has contemptuously delayed justice. A few days after I complained to the IG, there was a sudden rush to bring charges against me. Today I stand charged with conspiracy and face 140 years of confinement because I refused to give them information I did not have! Ironically, the alleged co-conspirator is serving a five year sentence, and a corrupt INS agent who confessed his involvement last year has not been charged with ANYcrimes!"
A FUTILE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE
Since every attempt for redress failed, Chief Rodriguez-Martinez, asked his military defense counsel in June 1999 to seek "extraordinary relief" in view of the fact the Fort Bliss SJA was trying to "unlawfully" retain him on active duty.
He was told that first he'd have to "exhaust all forms of redress" before requesting any kind of relief.
"Later on that year, when it became evident to me that the military were lying to me and misstating the facts in their illegal effort to revoke my retirement, I again inquired of my legal counsel and he just repeated his prior advice."
Many times during the period July 1999 to February 2000, decisions were made concerning Martinez-Rodriguez's career, he said, without allowing him "due process" of law as stipulated in Army regulations.
"Army officials would serve me with various notices of actions against me but I never was afforded the right to respond. Decisions were always made before I had an opportunity to respond.
"On March and April 2000, I submitted protected communications to the Training and Doctrine Command, the Department of the Army, and the Department of Defense Inspector General's offices. The first two communications were compromised somewhere down the line. They ended up in the office of the SJA and my commanders at Fort Bliss. Part of my TRADOC IG complaint was used against me during pretrial motions!
"The Inspector General rejected my complaint in June because, according to them, I did not submit it within the prescribed 60 days.
"I went back to the military defense counsel. He told me if I was to be convicted, I would have an opportunity to automatically appeal my conviction and that is the ONLY form of relief that I am entitled to under military law. In other words, I would have to go outside the military justice system to find some form of relief prior to trial."
Rodriguez-Martinez said he could seek relief through a civilian attorney but that the cost of that would be prohibitive.
"The little money that I had, I spent trying to defend myself against sham elimination boards. I was assigned a new defense counsel this July. I brought up the issue to him and he did some research for me. He found that I may be eligible for a request for Habeas Corpus but that I will have to submit it through a civilian attorney or on my own (pro-se). Due to my financial situation, I have no choice but to do it pro-se."
A PATTERN OF ABUSE
RETALIATION: Rodriguez-Martinez contends his rights were violated under the Whistle Blowers Act (Title 10, USC, Section 1034) when his protected communications with the Inspector General were compromised and military officials retaliated against him, whether for being a defense witness in another soldier's elimination board proceedings, or for refusing to "confess" to law enforcement officials something he didn't do.
DECEPTIVE AND ILLEGAL PRACTICES: Fort Bliss and Department of the Army officials are alleged to have engaged in deceptive and misleading practices designed to deprive Rodriguez-Martinez of his legal entitlements and due process of law. He claims he was coerced and placed under duress by the SJA and Army officials - through misrepresentation of options - into applying for retirement in lieu of elimination.
VIOLATION OF PRIVACY: "My commanders contemptuously utilized open methods of transmitting communication to expose my case to the plain view of anyone with direct access to the network services and command meetings at Fort Bliss in violation of my privacy rights."
UNLAWFUL REVOCATION OF RETIREMENT: "My already approved retirement of August 1, 1999 was unlawfully revoked in violation of AR 600-8-24, AR 600-8-2, Title 10 USC, Section 639, and Title 5 USC Section 702. Actions executed against me that are the product of an illegal act therefore should be nullified."
DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS: "I was denied my fundamental right of military due process when my legal consul was prevented (despite repeated attempts) from obtaining evidence and information necessary to establish a defense. My defense and right to counsel have been impeded in violation of due process when the SJA in an addendum to my application for retirement in lieu of elimination included as an attachment, a document that we were not informed would be included. As a result, my counsel was not able to respond, correct, or countervail the implied misinformation as required by Army Regulation 600-8-24. Also, I was the subject of nonconsensual interrogations by being repeatedly questioned by the FBI and CID officials WITHOUT the presence of an attorney! I was the subject of nonconsensual interrogation when, through deceptive means, the SJA intercepted privileged communications intended for the IG, and my legal counsel."
UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR AND PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT: "The FBI and CID engaged in misconduct by purposely misrepresenting the evidence to army authorities. I feel the SJA used bait and switch tactics and his and the Article 32 hearing officer made prejudicial comments during the hearing. The Department of the Army's decisions to unlawfully revoke my retirement and not accept my application for retirement in lieu of elimination is based on a parade of unevidenced matters and untrue statements of facts made by the SJA."
BEING SINGLED OUT FOR PROSECUTION: "I was singled out for prosecution in violation of my Fifth Amendment rights which assures every person the equal protection of law."
UNLAWFUL COMMAND INFLUENCE: "My commanders abandoned their impartial roles and became advocates for the prosecution. I contend prejudicial command influence has tainted the fairness of my case from the onset causing me irreparable injury and rendering adjudication of my case ineffectual."
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST, DENIED LAWFUL ENTITLEMENTS, SUBJECTION TO CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PRE-BOARD AND PRE-TRIAL PUNISHMENT: "I was subjected to public and pretrial humiliation by the command at Fort Bliss. I was illegally deprived of a lawfully approved retirement, promotion opportunities, mandatory performance evaluations reports for the past three years, my personal liberty, and the opportunity to be heard in response to the Army's elimination threats."
CAMPAIGN OF TERRORISM: "The Army's three-year calculated campaign of terrorism against my family and myself have methodically deprived us of our dignity, lawful entitlements, due process and civil rights."
DEFECTIVE ARTICLE 32 HEARING: "The Article 32 investigation was devoid of fundamental fairness. I was denied the right of a properly conducted pre-trial investigation. But the Article 32 hearing officer improperly refused to recluse himself where his impartiality might have reasonably been questioned. The SJA was an accuser due to his personal interest in my case and therefore cannot objectively perform the pretrial and Article 32 review of this case. My right to confront my accusers was denied. Statements made by the prosecutor during the Article 32 hearing were prejudicial against me.
INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE: "The so-called evidence is legally insufficient to sustain a conviction for conspiracy because the testimony of the two Government witnesses are both exculpatory in one instance and uncorroborated and inherently suspect in the other. Evidence omitted during the Article 32 hearings creates unreasonable doubt. Third and fourth-hand hearsay is not sufficient evidence to proceed to a court-martial when there is no opportunity to cross-examine unavailable witnesses."
DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ARE
Chief Rodriguez-Martinez contends there is an obvious disparity in the way Fort Bliss officials dispense "justice" among soldiers of different rank. Informed sources at Fort Bliss and in El Paso, Texas have provided information which led to an investigation by MilitaryCorruption.com.
These sources report "the same zeal used to prosecute low-ranking soldiers is used to process the expeditious retirement of high-ranking officers and certain senior non-commissioned officers when they "get in trouble."
A sergeant-major and senior enlisted IG at Fort Bliss was expeditiously allowed to retire from the Army after being found to have extorted sexual favors from soldiers' wives in exchange for helping them get child support.
A former command sergeant major was allowed to quietly retire after an investigation revealed that he abused travel privileges to maintain an adulterous affair with a subordinate soldier at Fort Hood, Texas. He was also picked up for DUI but nothing happened to him.
Another command sergeant major was picked up DUI, but he too got a quick retirement without any punishment.
A full colonel, the former commandant of the U.S. Army's Sergeant's Majors Academy at Fort Bliss, was allowed to expeditiously retire after being confronted with E-mail messages of a sexual nature addressed to his civilian secretary. Other female employees at the academy had previously complained about the preferential treatment this secretary was receiving from her COL "boyfriend" but their complaints fell on "deaf ears." The female secretary admitted that she and the colonel would take TDY trips to maintain their affair and that the colonel was able to get her promoted utilizing his power and influence.
Another full colonel, this one a chaplain, was processed off post and retired "in a matter of days" after a young male chaplain's assistant complained the officer made sexual advances toward him. The SPC said the chaplain showed him X-rated films in their hotel room while on TDY and attempted to have sex with him. The chaplain's assistant said the colonel claimed he rented one room for him and his enlisted subordinates "in order to save the government money on TDY funds." In actuality, it was to seduce his chaplain's assistants. The young soldier was transferred to a station of choice and no charges were preferred against the well-connected colonel.
Other abuses at Fort Bliss have occurred in recent years including an episode when two dozen officers and NCO's were caught up in a sex scandal involving young female enlisted soldiers.
"The double-standard is alive and well at Fort Bliss," one non-com on post told MilitaryCorruption.com. "The arrogance of our so-called commanders is breath-taking. They know they can do what they damn well please. But the one thing they fear is exposure. Bad publicity could embarrass the Army and they can't afford to do that. So they try to keep a lid on things and keep scandals and misconduct here covered-up."
When contacted to get the Army's side of the story, COL Wallace B. Hobson, Fort Bliss garrison commander, had "no comment."
As for CW2 Rodriguez-Martinez, he lives his life day-by-day. The emotional toll has been devastating to him and his family. "I know I am inviting further retaliation by talking to you," he told MilitaryCorrupiton.com, "but I want everyone to know how evil elements of today's Army have become. They have no conscience. All they care about is themselves. My wife has reached her breaking point and I am not far from a mental ward myself. Will it take a tragedy for someone to finally say: "Enough is enough?"
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