FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – An Army lieutenant received a split verdict when a jury acquitted him in the theft of a SUV in Iraq but convicted him of lying about the incident.
A jury deliberated nearly six hours Thursday night before acquitting First Lt. Bradley Pavlik (search) of accessory after the fact to robbery and convicting him of making a false statement. He faces sentencing Friday morning.
During a two-day court-martial, military prosecutors argued that Pavlik knew his soldiers robbed a sheik of his SUV in Iraq, then helped them cover up the crime.
Pavlik's civilian attorney, Frank Spinner, argued that there was no evidence that Pavlik knew one of his soldiers planned to commit a robbery.
In July, Sgt. 1st Class James Williams (search), 37, was convicted of stealing the SUV in April 2003; the jury recommended he serve no prison time.
At his trial, Williams said he took the vehicle only because Pavlik ordered him to, and that he did not think it was a criminal act.
Early in the war, soldiers were allowed to "commandeer" civilian vehicles for military purposes under the rules of engagement. They were instructed to leave a receipt so the vehicle could be returned to the owner or money could be given to them.
Williams said Pavlik was angry his own vehicle had broken down and told squad leaders to find him another. The SUV was taken without force, but no receipt was left. The Army later paid Sheik Ahmed W. Al-Faisal $32,000.
A second soldier in the platoon served a year in prison for his role in the theft.
Pavlik pleaded guilty earlier this week to violating a general order and of conduct unbecoming an officer; another charge of violating a general order was dismissed before the trial started. A charge of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline was dismissed Thursday.
It was not immediately known what penalty the remaining charges carry upon conviction.