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“THIS HAS GOTTEN SO VERY, VERY BIG”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 7, 2013) — In 1989, CDR Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III (Ret.) was said to have misused ship’s funds in the amount of $10,400 and subjected to a Special Court-Martial after he refused to admit wrongdoing.
His admiral, John Bitoff, used his staff to construct a case against Fitzpatrick without evidence, witnesses or testimony. In the process, multiple crimes were committed, including forgery, conspiracy, and the exercise of undue command influence, something of which Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos has now been accused.
Although retired from the Navy in 1991, Bitoff was the officer who denied Fitzpatrick’s request for a review in 1992, having obtained the file from a staff JAG who took the place of Lt. Tim Zeller. Zeller had performed the “investigation” alone and had also acted as one of Fitzpatrick’s accusers.
In 1999, Bitoff wrote a letter to then-Rep. Norman Dicks expressing that he was “surprised by how aggressive LT Zeller” appeared about prosecuting Fitzpatrick. Bitoff also wrote that he “was surprised to find LT Zeller had conducted the investigation, rather than the NIS” (now the NCIS). Bitoff also admitted to having “brought the charges and convened the court-martial.”
Fitzpatrick named his former defense attorney, who was hand-picked by Bitoff, as the person who forged his signature, which is misspelled, on a Response to Letter of Reprimand dated 7 July 1990 which Fitzpatrick never saw until he obtained it as a result of a FOIA request years later.
“The forgery, which is entered into two different records, is a crime being committed every single day, including a large numbers of officers and Gen. Amos because a couple of his officers are responsible for maintaining the record intact. This has gotten so very, very big. The reason Amos is able to operate as he does today is that nobody stopped a guy like John Bitoff or any of the others,” Fitzpatrick told The Post & Email.
Fitzpatrick has explained that the military justice system does not contain the checks and balances of the civilian courts because the UCMJ evolved from the British Articles of War, in effect before the writing of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
“Today, an admiral or a general can act like a centurion or an emperor from the Roman days. How do we know that? By looking at my case,” he said.
Fitzpatrick has recontacted the Naval Inspector General’s office over the last month but received no indication that it will open a new investigation into the claims made 15 years before to the FBI in the complaint which follows.