Using Fines to Save Military Careers, and Pay Back “Alleged” Victims

The court in United States v. Lubasky, No. 09-0043/AR, reviewed a very interesting court-martial sentence predicated on an officer’s being found guilty of several charges concerning larceny and conduct unbecoming an officer.  The Military Judge sentenced the officer to serve “22-months confinement, to forfeit of all pay and allowances; dismissal, which was recommended to be suspended; and a $50,000 fine, with an additional two years of confinement if not paid.”   The Convening Authority approved the adjudged sentence, but suspended the fine “for a period of 60 days, conditioned upon the accused making restitution in the amount of $42,267.00 to the victim, unless the suspension is sooner vacated for failure to satisfy the condition.”  In effect, the Convening Authority converted the fine into a payment in restitution to the victim.  Practioners would be wise, in cases involving larceny and economic loss, to push their clients to “pony-up” the money if they have it, confront the victim with the possible resolution that inures to their strict benefit, and hopefully thereby persaude them to take on a “no harm, no foul” disposition toward your client.  Notably, had the significant $50,000 fine not been adjudged in the first place, it is very likely the judge would not have “suspended” this accused dismissal from the service.

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