WILL IT LEAD TO A LARGER PROBE?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 14, 2017) — An individual who served as power of attorney (POA) for a disabled Army soldier discharged in January reported last week that it appears that an investigation is taking place into the theft of tens of thousands of dollars from the soldier’s Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) account.
At the end of last year, while the soldier remained an inpatient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) against his will, the POA discovered that the soldier’s account had been electronically breached and large amounts of money stolen on different dates over a six-week period.
In mid-November last year, the POA learned that a new debit card for the soldier’s NFCU account had been issued despite the fact that she had canceled the previous card after the soldier was hospitalized and did not request that it be replaced.
At first, NFCU personnel suggested that she was the party who took the money, but she was able to prove that she did not move money electronically from his account. Shortly after NFCU acknowledged that the breaches had occurred, the funds were restored to the soldier’s account.
Relieved at that development, the former POA said that she had been unaware that any further investigation had been launched but that she was pleased to learn through a recent phone call from a military prosecutor that separate investigations had been conducted by the several banking institutions involved and once completed, were turned over to the NCIS.
Her understanding from the phone call is that the NCIS has now identified a suspect. In an interview with The Post & Email on November 7, the POA said that the prosecutor’s questions of her focused on one person.
Last Wednesday, The Post & Email sent messages to two email contacts provided by the former POA asking for comment or, alternatively, a media contact person, but received no response.
As The Post & Email reported on November 2, in July of last year, the POA had told us that she and someone who was assisting her at the time with the soldier’s situation were victims of cyber-crime. The POA reported email hacking, breaches of her children’s bank accounts and her work laptop as well as physical surveillance outside of her home for a number of months.
“The only way they could have known that XXXXX was helping me was to hack my email,” she told us.
While the POA is not currently experiencing difficulties with her phone or internet service, the other advocate, who lives in Hawaii, continues to suffer from regular attacks which block him from communicating with others unless conducted in person. However, both are convinced that the interference is being carried out by government operatives because of its sophistication, frequency and intensity.
“They had to interfere with his ability to speak with us,” the former POA said. “They saw him as the one with all of the information and blocked him from sending it.”
Hawaii authorities, including the local FBI office, have declined to investigate the claims.
Still unresolved is a $13,000 signature loan fraudulently taken out in the soldier’s name shortly after he was hospitalized in April 2013 with a traumatic brain injury. Throughout his lengthy recovery period, he made payments on the loan despite the fact that he could not have signed for it and had filed a fraud report with the NFCU.
The former POA is hopeful that the perpetrator of the $13,000 heist will be identified as a result of the investigation into the more recent electronic thefts.
On Monday evening, The Post & Email spoke with the soldier’s former spiritual adviser and secondary POA, who said he was also contacted by the military prosecutor about the bank thefts. A former U.S. Army Captain himself who was discharged in 2015 under dubious circumstances, the spiritual adviser questioned why the Army appears to be focusing on one individual when it is likely that someone in that individual’s chain of command had knowledge of the illegal transfers or may even have directed them.
He has known the soldier since 2012, before the soldier incurred the traumatic brain injury on April 29, 2013. In his interview with The Post & Email, he questioned why the soldier’s reported sexual assault while on active duty that day has never been investigated and related that sexual assault in the military, based on knowledge acquired while he was on active duty, is more prevalent than most Americans are aware.
The spiritual adviser said that Warrior Transition Brigade personnel went as far as to say (paraphrased), “Don’t open up that can of worms; it will get really nasty.”
“Bad things happen when people are stationed in places where they have time on their hands,” the spiritual adviser said, referencing the recently-publicized death of SSgt. Logan Melgar, reportedly under NCIS investigation as a potential homicide at the hands of two Navy SEALs.
The former spiritual adviser said that he advised the military prosecutor of the soldier’s alleged sexual assault and that he believed it ultimately instigated the financial theft. In response, the military prosecutor reportedly said, “We’re focusing just on the financial crimes.”
Both former POAs told the prosecutor that they are willing to testify in person if necessary.