SAN DIEGO -- A decision handed down recently in a military appellate court sheds light on a sexual scandal that rocked Marine Corps Air Station Miramar last year, detailing a senior enlisted leader's escapades with a superior officer in their offices and inappropriate dalliances with his junior troops.
A tribunal at the United States Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals has refused to vacate the conviction of ex-Master Sgt. Frederico A. "Rico" Williams, a 21-year veteran of the service and one of Miramar's senior enlisted leaders before his Jan.16, 2016, court-martial conviction and dramatic fall from power.
A Marine jury -- called a "panel" in the military -- found him guilty of disobeying a lawful general order, uttering a false official statement, adultery, larceny and obstructing justice. He was sentenced to six months in the brig, busted down to private and evicted from the corps on a bad-conduct discharge, which prevented him from retiring from the service and collecting military pension and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
In his appeal, Williams, 41, of San Diego, argued that his transgressions were minor and the discharge too severe, but the three judges disagreed and said the punishment fit the litany of crimes he committed.
"This characterization of (his) misconduct demonstrates failure to grasp its true impact, and to understand how inimical it is to military service," wrote Navy Capt. Colleen Glaser-Allen, the chief judge, in her 10-page opinion. "Senior enlisted noncommissioned officers like the appellant are the backbone of the Marine Corps and the naval service as a whole -- and as such, have a particular responsibility to lead by example."