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What is Article 121 Larceny and Wrongful Appropriation?

 In ARTICLE 121, Blog

Article 121 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) covers the offense of larceny in the military. Larceny is defined as the wrongful taking, carrying, or using of someone else’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of that property. If you have been accused of Article 121 Larceny, consult with our experienced military larceny lawyer.

When you think about the word larceny, it triggers thoughts of grand plans and conspiracies to steal large amounts of money or stolen goods. But larceny in the service could happen just because the paperwork on your housing allowance is messed up, you got overpaid for a year, and didn’t tell anyone.

What is the punishment for Article 121?

Under Article 121, any service member who is found guilty of larceny may be punished by a court-martial. The severity of the punishment will depend on several factors, including the value of the property stolen and the circumstances surrounding the offense. The maximum punishment for Article 121 larceny under the UCMJ is dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and confinement for up to 10 years.

Sounds scary. However, these days, the military mostly saves the courts-martial cases for sexual assault allegations. The military still investigates Article 121 and if allegations are founded, the military may move to separate a service member. Depending upon the severity of the allegation, the service may conduct an admin separation with a general discharge, or for more severe cases, conduct an adverse separation board seeking an other than honorable discharge for the service member. Officers and enlisted with six or more years of service are automatically eligible to a separation board defended by an attorney. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense.

If a service member is found guilty of larceny, the military may impose a range of administrative and punitive measures, including fines, reduction in rank, administrative separation with an other than honorable discharge, and even imprisonment. In some cases, the military may also seek restitution to compensate the victim for any losses they may have suffered as a result of the theft.

What are the high-profile cases of Article 121?

Interestingly enough, there have been several high-profile cases of larceny in the military over the years, but some of the cases weren’t high profile for the larceny allegations, but for other severe allegations. Here are a few examples:

Private Lynndie England – Private England was one of the soldiers involved in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq in 2004. She was convicted of several offenses, including conspiracy to maltreat detainees, and of stealing an officer’s property.

Sergeant Hasan Akbar – In 2003, Sergeant Hasan Akbar was convicted of premeditated murder and attempted murder in connection with a grenade attack on his fellow soldiers in Kuwait. He was also found guilty of larceny for stealing a pair of night-vision goggles before the attack.

Private First Class Bradley Manning – In 2013, Private Manning was convicted of numerous charges, including several counts of theft, in connection with his release of classified information to Wikileaks.

Probably the latest and possibly the most famous case of larceny in the military was conducted by a businessman at the center of one of the largest corruption scandals in U.S. Navy history. Leonard Glenn Francis, otherwise known by the nickname “Fat Leonard”, was the CEO of a company called Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), which provided port services to U.S. Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific region.

Beginning in the early 2000s, Francis began bribing Navy officials with cash, luxury travel, and other gifts in exchange for information about the movements of U.S. Navy ships. This information allowed him to overcharge the Navy for GDMA’s services and defraud the government out of tens of millions of dollars. He also used his connections with Navy personnel to obtain classified information that he could use to gain a competitive advantage in his business.

The scandal eventually led to the prosecution of dozens of Navy personnel, including several admirals, who were found to have accepted bribes from Francis in exchange for providing him with classified information and other favors. Francis himself pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and fraud and cooperated with authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence.

The Fat Leonard scandal had far-reaching consequences for the U.S. Navy and highlighted the dangers of corruption and insider threats in the military. It also led to reforms in the Navy’s contracting practices and renewed efforts to prevent and detect fraud and corruption in the military.

Entitled to due process

These are just a few examples of cases involving larceny in the military. While they may be well-known, it’s important to remember that every case is unique and must be judged on its own merits. Service members accused of larceny are entitled to due process and have the right to be represented by an attorney. Additionally, the burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense.

See case results for some successful larceny defenses here. For more information on this offense including the maximum punishment, potential defenses, and a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case, call us at 757-504-2815 for a free consultation with our attorney.

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