KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An army officer has been sentenced to 30 days in jail for stealing about $140,000 in housing allowances and army dues while stationed in Germany.
Lt. Col. Derrick Carter pleaded guilty in a court martial on Thursday to charges of theft and making false official statements. military judge Colonel Charles Pritchard handed down a 15-day prison sentence for each charge, but said the sentence could be served concurrently.
Dismissal from the army was not part of the sentence. Failing any other action, Carter would be able to collect retirement benefits after his 26 years of service.
Between July 2018 and April 2021, Carter submitted documents allowing him to collect approximately $4,000 per month in unearned rights.
The payments included the Family Separation Allowance. Carter said on the documents, which also included housing allowance forms, that his family lived in the United States rather than Wiesbaden, where he had been stationed since 2018.
‘Although he paid back the money … committing fraud against the United States government should not be the equivalent of an interest-free loan,’ lead prosecutor Capt. Olivia Haigler said during the trial. at Kleber Kaserne.
In his work, Carter supports U.S. Army Europe and Africa based in Wiesbaden and was the officer in charge of a contact tracing team established early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carter met his wife, who gave tearful testimony in support of him at trial, during his first deployment to Germany nearly two decades ago.
The Alabama native told the court that his wife and 5-year-old daughter planned to return to the United States after spending time with him in Wiesbaden, but ended up staying close to his wife’s mother, whom he described as very ill.
Details of how officials detected the fraud and notified criminal investigators were not disclosed in court. However, the investigation took 138 hours and cost about $3,600, according to the testimony of a financial supervisor involved in the investigation.
Carter’s service includes three combat tours in Iraq and numerous awards, including the Bronze Star.
In court, he described the challenges his family has faced in recent years, including health issues resulting from their deployments to the Middle East. But he said they were no excuse for his “bad decisions” to knowingly deceive the military.
“I deeply and sincerely have remorse beyond my ability to express,” Carter said. “To the military, to my brothers and sisters and to all of my past and present bosses, mentors, I sincerely apologize.”
“Please know that these offenses do not accurately reflect who I am at heart,” he added. “I am a good soldier.”
In addition to jail time, Carter’s sentence includes a $10,000 fine for the theft conviction.