- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 21, 2013) — An open letter sent as an email to Adm. Ronald J. Zlatoper containing allegations of criminality made by Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III regarding his court-martial of 1989-1990 has not received a response.
The message, sent on September 17, also went to other former members of the Navy JAG Corps and to Fitzpatrick’s former defense attorney, Kevin Anderson. “I haven’t gotten a single response from anybody,” Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email later that day.
“I sent it out to a lot of reporters as well. We’re doing this in the public with witnesses. I put Zlatoper on the spot. I said to him, ‘I’m doing this in the open and public, as opposed to what you did back in 1994, which was to put this memo together in the dark of night, behind closed doors. You didn’t send me a copy of that; you didn’t call me to ask for my participation in that memo so that you could have gotten it straight.’”
Fitzpatrick has named Anderson as the person who forged his name to the false “Response to Letter of Reprimand Letter” in 1990 without Fitzpatrick’s knowledge. Anderson’s coworkers and supervisor were copied on the emails.
As of this writing, Fitzpatrick has received no response from any of the addressees other than from a JAG officer who generously gave of his time to relate his recollections of the JAG Corps during the 1990s. His interview unwittingly elucidated some aspects of Fitzpatrick’s case, and he recalled that Fitzpatrick’s main complaint had been of “undue command influence.”
The Post & Email has spoken with Anderson and Adm. John Bitoff, who was Fitzpatrick’s commanding officer and accuser; however, neither Anderson nor Bitoff would consent to go on the record. In the near future, The Post & Email will be contacting all of those to whom Fitzpatrick has communicated in an attempt to obtain statements on the allegations made against them.
Anderson has been working as a deputy prosecutor in Kitsap County, WA, for more than 15 years. When questioned in his office by the NCIS in 1998 about the forgery, Anderson said he did not know how the confession letter came to be in Fitzpatrick’s file. However, in 2003, while speaking to a police detective on a complaint he lodged against Fitzpatrick for allegedly “stalking his family,” Anderson told the detective that he created and produced the letter but did not sign it.
Fitzpatrick inadvertently learned of the complaint against him more than a year later, in 2004. After obtaining a copy of the report, he went to the NCIS again to relate Anderson’s contradictory statements on the forgery. The NCIS refused to reopen the investigation and instead threatened Fitzpatrick’s life if he were to continue seeking justice for the forgery and rigged court-martial.
In an initial email to Zlatoper which Fitzpatrick sent four days before the open letter, Zlatoper responded, “I don’t know who you are.” Fitzpatrick then sent Zlatoper an electronic file of an April 28, 1994 memorandum which Zlatoper had signed and sent to then-Chief of Naval Operations Mike Boorda, assuring him that there was nothing amiss about Fitzpatrick’s court-martial.
Boorda had questioned Zlatoper after an article was published in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on issues surrounding Fitzpatrick’s court-martial entitled, “Navy Officer Fights Exile from Service.” SEATTLE P-I ED OFFLEY – 21 APRIL 1994
Zlatoper’s letter quoted from the fraudulent “Response to Letter of Reprimand” which bore Fitzpatrick’s forged and misspelled signature without verifying any of the truths or untruths behind it.
An editorial dated April 27, 1994 opined that Fitzpatrick was the victim of a vendetta by his commander, Adm. John Bitoff, for voicing criticism over a support issue and that Fitzpatrick deserved a new trial. SEATTLE P-I EDITORIAL – 27 APRIL 1994
Fitzpatrick has maintained his innocence to this day and named a myriad of officers, both retired and active, as participants in the crimes committed against him.
“They can still be held to criminal accountability today,” Fitzpatrick said. “The forgery is still being used to hold an illegal federal conviction against me. Even if they do not prosecute anybody for the crimes they committed against me, they still are under an obligation to lift this federal conviction off of my back and to provide me with as much remedy and relief as they are physically able for what they’ve done to me by way of maltreatment, harassment, and financial harm.”
The court-martial took place a year before the Tailhook scandal was made public, after which none of the officers involved was court-martialed. Some, however, were not promoted as a result of their irresponsible actions at the conference; others received letters of reprimand.
Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email that a culture of arrogance and corruption prevailed in the U.S. Navy in the years before and after his court-martial. “In the early ’90s, there was an extraordinary condemnation of leadership even from within their own ranks. James Webb came to Alumni Hall at the Naval Academy in April 1996 and gave a speech, then two or three weeks later, Adm. Boorda took his own life. Adm. Boorda didn’t commit suicide because of a “V” on his uniform; there were a lot of things on his mind at that point. One of them was that he had participated in a crime, which is the forgery of my name onto a fake confession, and he tried to cover-up a court-martial that was completely rigged. There has never been a court-martial in the history of the country which has been shown to have been as rigged as mine,” Fitzpatrick said.
On October 15, 1996, The New York Times reported that “the post-Tailhook spirit may have contributed to the suicide this year of Adm. Jeremy M. Boorda, the Chief of Naval Operations.”
Fitzpatrick has observed on numerous occasions that military officers “are running their own type of government.” He referenced the incident in Samson, AL on March 10, 2009, after which U.S. Army troops were dispatched from Ft. Rucker to perform law enforcement activity under the leadership of Gen. Martin Dempsey, who Obama promoted in 2011 to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Following an investigation, the Army Inspector General determined that the Posse Comitatus Act was violated by the Samson deployment.
“Andy Griffith is turning into “Col. Griffith.” One day we will have military officers walking the streets. Samson, AL happened on Obama and Dempsey’s watch. We predicted that Dempsey would promote to four stars, and sure enough, two years later, he’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
The email to Zlatoper copied in Navy Judge Advocate General Nanette DeRenzi, current Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert, and numerous JAG Corps officers who were serving in 1997, when the NCIS was first commissioned to conduct an investigation into Fitzpatrick’s claim of the forgery of his name.
“If there was anything they could hang their hat on saying that Fitzpatrick’s court-martial was legit, they ought to speak up,” Fitzpatrick told us. “If they can prove that the signature on that document was really mine – which they can’t – we should be hearing from them right now.”
“They never in their wildest imaginations ever thought that I would ever acquire the kind of document record that I have now,” he added. “There are people who want this information to be known.”
Tags: Adm. John Bitoff, Adm. Ronald J. Zlatoper, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, forgery, Ft. Rucker, Gen. Martin Dempsey, JAG Corps, James Webb, Kevin Anderson, Kitsap County WA, Mike Boorda, NCIS, Obama, Posse Comitatus Act, Tailhook scandal, The New York Times, TJAG Nanette DeRenzi, U.S. Navy, Walter Francis Fitzpatrick III