- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 20, 2013) — On September 17, 2004, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III obtained a copy of a police report indicating that his defense attorney from his 1990 sham court-martial had filed a false report against him, claiming that Fitzpatrick was harassing his family. The detective who spoke with Anderson, Beth Deatherage, did not pursue the matter with Fitzpatrick, as he was never visited by her or any other member of the Port Orchard, WA Police Department.
When Fitzpatrick found out about the report, it was more than a year after Anderson had filed it and closer to two years.
During the interview, Deatherage asked Anderson why Fitzpatrick would allegedly make threats against his family. Anderson responded that Fitzpatrick held a grudge against him from the Navy, having claimed that someone had forged his signature to a confession document following the court-martial. It was then that Anderson told the detective that he was the author of the document.
Five years prior, Anderson had denied knowing anything about the document when a team of NCIS investigators visited him in his Kitsap County, WA office, where he was working as an assistant district attorney.
The Post & Email contacted Anderson nearly two years ago about the Fitzpatrick court-martial. He seemed keenly interested in what we had to say and spoke with us at length but would not go on the record. Neither would Fitzpatrick’s former admiral, John Bitoff, who Fitzpatrick has identified as the perpetrator of the contrived charges levied against him. “He was a political animal and manufactured this whole event against me,” Fitzpatrick said.
In his statement to Deatherage, Anderson said that “Fitzpatrick had accused him of forging his name on a letter that went to the Admiral asking for leniency.” However, Fitzpatrick has repeatedly told The Post & Email that prior to his acquiring the copy of the 2003 police report in September 2004, he had believed that Lt. Tim Zeller, who had acted as Bitoff’s prosecutor in the court-martial, had been the forger.
The Fitzpatrick court-martial is an extraordinarily well-documented example of how government corruption extends to the U.S. military with the full knowledge and participation of high-ranking commanders and flag officers. The number of people involved in maintaining the forgery as authentic is unknown but grows with every person who has learned of it and taken no action.
Following Department of Defense spokesman George Little’s pledge to be open with members of the press, even “bad news,” the military has failed to respond to The Post & Email’s several requests to communicate with someone about the information we possess showing that Fitzpatrick’s claims are accurate. During a July 24 press conference, Little claimed that “thanks to the Internet, social media and smartphones, the walls between citizens, journalists and the military have never been thinner.”
In the following interview, Fitzpatrick explained how he discovered that Anderson was the forger of his name to the document, the original of which he has never seen. It remains in his Navy file, “undisturbed,” with a “Department of the Navy” cover page tied with a ribbon, signed by Lt. Col. D. A. Neesen of the U.S. Marine Corps certifying that “the annexed two pages constitute a true and accurate copy of the Response to Letter of Reprimand dated 17 Jul 90 from the special court-martial record of trial in the case of LCDR Walter F. Fitzpatrick, USN…”
In a strikingly similar occurrence reported on Sunday, a Marine Corps judge advocate was said to have filed a complaint against a top commander and several advisers for withholding evidence in a case against eight Marines. The Marine Corps Times wrote that Maj. James Weirick “alleges Commandant Gen. Jim Amos, or others working on his behalf, sought to ensure harsh punishment for the Marines facing charges and suppress evidence.”
Fitzpatrick has pointed out that the military system of “justice” is naturally prone to abuse because of the absence of a grand jury to review evidence against a defendant. As “a function of command structure,” officers have the ability to contrive or exaggerate charges against an accused and to manufacture “ghost witnesses” and other false testimony, as occurred in Fitzpatrick’s court-martial 23 years ago.
Of his discovery of the author of the forgery, Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email:
Anderson connected himself to the origination of the document in an unguarded moment. At the point that he answered the question, he could not have known what Det. Deatherage was going to write in her report. At that point in time, he knew that it was a protected record, and he thought it would never go anywhere. So they walked away from it, and one year later, in 2004, I found out about the police report. I got a copy of it and I started to go to general quarters.
I was in the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office to make a report about local corruption, and one of the desk sergeants came out and spoke to me. I forget her name. In the course of the conversation, she said, “You know, I’ve seen a report with your name on it.” I said, “What are you talking about?” and she would not tell me. I said, “Can you give me a copy of it?” and they said, “No.” I said, “OK.”
So I drove from the Kitsap County court building to the Port Orchard Police Department, and I asked them for a copy of the report, and they refused. So I came in with a public records request and they gave me a copy of the document. It was shortly after that that I came in and brought a criminal complaint against Kevin Anderson for making a false report against me. The Port Orchard cops laughed up their sleeves at me and said, “Well, you know, we can’t touch this…” A little power play.
They also said that it had been over a year since Anderson submitted the report, and I said, “I just found out about it; I can’t help that.” Then they gave me every excuse for not going after Anderson for making a false police report. Their attitude was, “Forget about it.”
The original document exists; it’s in Washington, DC. I have a certified true copy of it which is all tied up with a ribbon. The ribbon is still intact.
The letter from the NCIS was meant to say, “Don’t go there, Fitzpatrick. Stop. Do not proceed, otherwise, we’re going to kill you.” Jim Connolly had the letter in his hand; he did the talking and threatened my life. He had three other agents in tactical deployment with me as the focus of the crossfire. If I had come to the door with a gun, they would have dropped me like a bag of potatoes. Connolly is about 6’4″ and stood to my right, and the guy to my left was short. They would have dropped and rolled, and the two agents at the middle distance away from me would have drawn and fired. One was on the left and one on the right. They were standing with their arms hanging; they had crossed their wrists in front of them. They could have drawn very quickly.
They were in a panic because the Port Orchard Police Department report exposed them, Bitoff, and everybody. Anderson gave that statement in an unguarded moment. He was asked the question and answered it believing that it would not pose any threat to him. “It’s five years later; the NCIS went away. He’s tracking me because of this document. I’m the guy who originated the document.” If five years earlier, he had made that same representation to the NCIS agents in his office, which could have included J.H. Connolly, then the whole dynamic would have changed in 1998.
The language that you see in those last two paragraphs was written in a panic. They were telling me, “DO NOT GO THERE.” I had a document that was very, very dangerous to them, and they were saying, “If you come back with that document, we will find a way to arrest you and lock you up. We know what it means; we know what it says. Stop, and don’t come back anymore,” because they knew I wasn’t going to stop.
So they came to my door and threatened me with my life.
The next morning, I cobbled together a written report and took it to the local FBI office which I slipped under their door. I also sent a copy to the two FBI agents from the Silverdale post office: Special Agent Patrick Gann and Stephanie Gleason. Then I took it to the NCIS office again. The office that I had been told not to return to I was in the next morning. I reported what had happened the day before to them and said, “This needs to go to your Internal Affairs group.” I kept going back to try to meet with an agent to explain what the police report represented, and they kept sending me away.
They know that this document is a forgery, and they know that this court-martial was rigged from beginning to end. We know for certain that John Bitoff rigged it. The Navy has a duty and a responsibility to lift this court-martial conviction off of my back. There are a series of actions which must take place even if they don’t prosecute anyone for doing what they did. In that part, the NCIS could have acted upon years ago. Even if that much gets out, they have a huge scandal to deal with. Even if they don’t prosecute anybody, it gives up how a court-martial works and that admirals and generals really do this kind of stuff. So they can’t provide me with any kind of remedy or relief at all.
I have gone after them. Whether or not they prosecute anybody, they have to take this out of my record. I’ve been walking around with this for almost a quarter of a century. The Navy has an obligation to come out and set the record straight, and they haven’t done that because it would make them look “really bad.”
I’ve made everybody aware of this, and they are not going to go after it until they are forced to, and I don’t believe that force and function is going to happen in any other way than press pressure.
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Tags: Adm. John Bitoff, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick III, court-martial, forgery, George Little, grand jury, James H. Connolly, Kevin Anderson, Kitsap County WA, Lt. Tim Zeller, military commanders, military corruption, NCIS, Port Orchard Police Department, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy