A calendar year right after remaining sentenced to 16 months in the brig for his role in stealing ammunition from the govt, and then dumping even extra ammo and explosives in a ravine in a panicked try to keep away from finding caught, a previous Maritime sergeant claims he’s doing the job tough to make excellent.
Former Sgt. Gunnar Naughton was sentenced in July 2021 by a navy judge at Camp Pendleton, California, just after pleading guilty to dereliction of responsibility, wrongful disposition of military services home, larceny and obstruction of justice. In addition to time in confinement, his sentence bundled forfeiture of all fork out and allowances, reduction in rank to private and a undesirable-perform discharge. In Oct 2022, a military services appellate court docket opted not to reduce his punishment.
The ammunition Naughton dumped was well worth much more than $4,000 and provided three nonlethal grenades and more than 11,000 rounds of tiny arms ammunition, according to a revealed charge sheet.
In exclusive statements to Marine Corps Moments, Naughton, 29, explained he has not presented up hope on the appeals approach ― and he’s performing to make himself a distinctive individual.
“I employed to wake up every single morning and go to mattress every evening thinking, ‘I’m a Marine,’” Naughton reported.
“Now I wake up in the morning and go to mattress at night time haunted by the word ‘felon.’”
Maritime sentenced for thieving ammunition states he was pressured by recon community
In the previous year, he mentioned, he has graduated from a vocational school, manufactured development toward a school diploma in social science and engaged a life mentor through the nonprofit Anti-Recidivism Coalition. He reported he’s also turn out to be involved in the group Sheep Pet dog Effects Help, which supports veteran healing by camaraderie, out of doors activities and volunteer do the job. He traveled with that group to Kentucky to aid with flooding reduction and to Florida to support in the wake of Hurricane Ian.
He was launched from the brig in February 2022, obtaining been credited with 147 days’ time served at sentencing.
While he claimed he has “no hope” of vindication, he strategies to question the Courtroom of Charm for the Armed Forces, the greatest armed service-certain appeals court, to evaluate his circumstance yet again in hopes it will grant him the opportunity to request clemency.
Naughton had been assigned as an arms, ammunition and explosives officer with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion ― a position that intended he was in demand of accounting for the unit’s ammunition and gathering and reorganizing unused ammunition at the conclude of every education working day.
In September 2020, Naughton and a handful of troops hatched a plan that would exploit the trust inherent in that function: They’d pocket some of the ammo rather of returning it to armed forces storage.
Naughton, according to court docket paperwork, would then falsify logbook entries to go over up the crime.
Although Naughton’s attorney would argue the Marines ended up filching some 840 5.56 mm rounds and other ammunition so that they could shoot it on their possess time, a single of the perps, Cpl. Jason Peters, tried out to provide some of it online. He was arrested in February 2021.
Soon after discovering of Peters’ arrest, Naughton manufactured a determined attempt to wipe out all proof of the conspiracy. He told one particular of the troops, Navy Medical center Corpsman 3rd Class Arthur Goldsborough, to delete Signal and WhatsApp messages in team chats that may implicate the Marines and hauled numerous cans of stolen ammo out of the dwelling of an additional conspirator, Staff members Sgt. Brian Newport, so he could hide them off base.
Eventually, Naughton tried using to destroy all the remaining proof by dumping it into the ravine. He was apprehended, however, in the similar regulation enforcement sting that ensnared Peters and seven more troops.
In his appeal to the Navy-Marine Corps Courtroom of Legal Appeals, Naughton alleged that his defense counsel did not properly defend him. He said they unsuccessful to acquire a “substantial assistance” letter from the military prosecutors stating that Naughton’s assist in creating cases towards the other conspirators merited a lighter sentence.
Naughton also argued that his authorized workforce could have taken that same recommendation letter and submitted it to the convening authority ― the typical overseeing the prosecution ― to request clemency consisting of a suspended terrible-carry out discharge.
In the for each curiam appellate ruling, the judges shut these arguments down, finding Naughton’s personal actions and responses to his lawful staff may perhaps have had a negative effect on his case.
They compose that his civilian attorney, Phil Stackhouse, in a sworn declaration responding to Naughton’s claims, did attest to inquiring about obtaining a sizeable assistance letter, including that a member of the navy prosecution staff responded that they’d examine it, but hardly ever adopted up more. The declaration also suggests there have been explanations the prosecution group did not publish the letter.
Achieved through e mail, Stackhouse declined to remark on the scenario.
Though Naughton had two post-trial meetings with legislation enforcement officers, the appellate ruling states, he balked at sharing facts about one more individual close to him who had allegedly been given some of the stolen ammo. This, it states, angered the prosecution crew.
It adds that this encounter prompted an email from the regional trial counsel expressing worries that Naughton might not be complying with his plea settlement.
“Given the circumstances of [Naughton’s] lackluster guidance to law enforcement and the trial counsel’s response, we obtain it sensible that demo defense counsel did not even further go after a substantial aid letter because they experienced no purpose to imagine trial protection counsel would give a single,” the ruling states.
Naughton claimed he hopes the greater appeals courtroom usually takes a broader perspective of the circumstance.
“What I am seeking is for the bigger court to give the Convening Authority the probability to evaluate what I have performed to atone for my actions and select no matter whether to have mercy or not, just like is performed for every other court-martialed support member,” he stated.
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