Did a Fort Drum soldier go AWOL 13 years ago or was it a misunderstanding? It apparently depends on whom you ask.
According to attorneys with a Washington, D.C. law firm, Lamar Lawshe is a victim of a misunderstanding and is now being held "hostage" at Fort Drum.
In addition, lawyers with the Federal Practice Group say the Army is going to spend more than $50,000 to take Lawshe to a general court-martial.
According to the attorneys, Lawshe "separated" from the Army in 1998, earned a college degree, has a steady job as a banker and is raising a family.
"Thirteen years later Fort Drum decided that he was AWOL and asked that he report to Fort Drum to resolve what was an obvious misunderstanding. Mr. Lawshe willingly reported in to the base where this misunderstanding has turned into a nightmare," the law firm said in a statement. "He was unable to shower for almost two weeks and is being openly ridiculed by junior and senior soldiers."
According to a statement from Major Scott Hutmacher, Chief of Justice at Fort Drum, "The Government is moving forward with due diligence in the matter of US v. PVT Lawshe. The evidence supports the charge of desertion preferred on PVT Lawshe on 9 NOV 11. Despite requests by Government counsel, PVT Lawshe's civilian counsel has been unable to provide the Government with any evidence to support the claim that PVT Lawshe was lawfully discharged from the US Army. PVT Lawshe's command continues to treat him with dignity and respect, just like any other Servicemember returned from AWOL. PVT Lawshe's unit continues to seek an efficient and just resolution to this case."
The law firm issued the following news release:
Army Endeavoring to Spend Over $50,000 Denying Veteran His Day in Court
November 16, 2011 - Washington, D.C. - The Federal Practice Group announces that U.S. Army leadership at Fort Drum, NY has decided to prosecute a solider for allegedly quitting the Army some 13 years ago yet deprive him of his right to go to court to exonerate himself and save his job.
The Federal Practice Group founder, Eric Montalvo, represents Mr. Lamar Lawshe. Mr. Lawshe separated from the Army in 1998.
He subsequently obtained a college degree, maintained steady employment, and began raising a family.
Thirteen years later Fort Drum decided that he was AWOL and asked that he report to Fort Drum to resolve what was an obvious misunderstanding.
Mr. Lawshe willingly reported in to the base where this misunderstanding has turned into a nightmare.
He was unable to shower for almost two weeks and is being openly ridiculed by junior and senior soldiers.
This banker is now being held hostage aboard Fort Drum without relief in sight.
Mr. Montalvo has requested that the charges be addressed before a court martial immediately so that his client can exonerate himself and return to his life without becoming unemployed and destroying his family.
His two young children are unsure where their father has gone and there is no good explanation.
The Army has made it clear that they will do everything in their power to keep Mr. Lawshe for at least the next six months.
The Army has provided no jurisdictional documents and are relying on a document found in a desk 13 years later that was altered by Officers in order to put it in effect.
Requests to speak with the Commanding General or his senior lawyer for a common sense review have been ignored.
According to Mr. Montalvo: "I find it egregious that at a time when we have people protesting joblessness in the streets, when the Department of Defense announces close to $500 billion in budget cuts, and when unemployment is over 9%, the Army wants to destroy this African American tax payer's life for no apparent reason. They have charged him, we have asserted his right to speedy trial to prove his innocence, and they have chosen to sit on their hands - what are they afraid of? They told me that they were going to resolve this through an administrative process and as soon as we requested an expedited effort to salvage his job and life in Pennsylvania they asserted they were going to take him to a General Court-Martial. We have documents that directly dispute the Army's assertions - we just want our day in court. The administrative process would cost about 10 dollars in paper and effort - they have instead chosen to invest in excess of 50,000 dollars to arrive at the same conclusion - this is fraud waste and abuse."