ACCA affirmed the findings and sentence of Sgt Clovis H. Castro, finding his plea substantial in both law and fact.
Castro opinion here.
Appellant was convicted of larceny for stealing gas from the GSO. Specifically, for using GSO gas cards that belonged to his unit to purchase gasoline for his personal vehicle on unofficial travel in violation of Art. 92 and 121, UCMJ. On appeal, Appellant conceded that the military judge's Care inquiry covered all the elements of larceny and was sufficient. However, Appellant contended that the military judge abused his discretion in accepting his guilty plea because the government incorrectly charged his alleged crime. Notably, Appellant asserted that the charge was incorrect because the GSA was never in possession of the gas. In a unanimous decision, the Court rejected Appellant’s claim.
Even though the Court decided Appellant's case based off of his concession that the military judge's Care inquiry was adequate, the Court still explored Appellant's incorrect charging argument. While the factual background of Appellant's case was unusual, the Court reasoned that this supported the government's alternative charging theory. Citing Williams and Cimball Sharpton, the Court reasoned that Appellant's case was analogus to Cimball Sharpton, which was subsequently clarified by Williams. Like the Air Force in Cimball Sharpton, the GSA was the correct victim because the Appellant was never in possession of money, only gas, and it was never possible for the Appellant to obtain money via the GSA cards. Noting these facts and finding no error in law or fact with Appellant's plea, the Court affirmed Appellant's findings and sentence.
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