October 12, 2005

Recruiter found guilty of
fraudulent enlistments

By Gordon Lubold
Times staff writer

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. — A five-member jury on Wednesday found a former recruiter from south Florida guilty of fraudulently enlisting illegal aliens from his native Belize, returning six guilty verdicts out of a possible eight.
Gunnery Sgt. Hubert Lucas, 35, faces seven years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for facilitating the sale of illegal identify documentation, including fake Social Security cards and alien registration cards, to allow several applicants from Belize to join the Corps. His general court-martial began here Oct. 5.

He was found innocent of two separate charges of having a sexual relationship with a poolee, and then trying to cover it up when an investigation was launched.

The jury, which deliberated about five hours on the verdicts, was expected to begin deliberating on sentencing for Lucas this afternoon.

The members began their deliberations for the verdict after the military judge, Col. Ralph Kohlmann, read instructions that lasted more than an hour. Earlier, the prosecution and defense attorney, both military lawyers, made brief closing arguments.

The government failed to make its case during the five-day trial, argued Capt. John Schwab, who defended Lucas. He compared the case against his client to a child’s drawing, saying Capt. Jeffrey King, the prosecutor, is trying to get the jury to see a picture of something that simply isn’t there. Lucas did not have a sexual relationship with the poolee in question, he said, referring to testimony in which several witnesses did not recall any intimate relationship between the two. And while Schwab did acknowledge that false documentation was used to enlist some applicants, he said no evidence presented during the trial actually links the documents to Lucas.

“The burden is on the government and don’t let them shake this burden,” Schwab said.

Schwab also questioned the integrity of the 11 witnesses who testified as to the legitimacy of the fake identity cards. He said the witnesses have everything to lose by telling the truth.

But King reminded the jury that the witnesses, most of whom are active-duty Marines, have everything to lose by lying under oath.

“They just told the truth,” he said.