Fort Sill drill sergeant convicted of bribery

Friday, January 14th 2005, 5:36 am
By: News On 6

FORT SILL, Okla. (AP) A drill sergeant has been convicted of taking bribes from trainees under his command in a scheme in which soldiers could buy ``insurance'' to guarantee they would pass basic training.

Sgt. 1st Class Larry T. Jones, 35, of Pensacola, Fla., was given a five-year prison sentence following his conviction Wednesday on nine charges and 18 specifications that included bribery, assault, conspiracy and making false statements to investigators.

Jones, who has been in the military for 16 years, was given a reduction to the lowest rank, his pay and allowances were cut and he was dishonorably discharged. Jones then was led away to a Fort Sill detention center.

``He's a very practical man who has a deep faith and trust in the Lord, and I think he was braced that this could happen,'' said James Willson, a Lawton attorney who represented Jones. ``Everything he has worked for the past 16 years is gone, and his future will now be affected because he will carry the stigma of a federal conviction with him for the rest of his life.''

Prosecutors sought the maximum penalty of 84 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and a forfeiture of any future pay and allowances. Before sentencing, Capt. La' Donna Shankle summed up the prosecution's recommendation when she said: ``It is appalling he (Jones) sent untrained soldiers into the Army while lining his pockets with their money. He stripped them of so much more.''

Jones, a father of two, made his own plea to jurors and asked that they allow him to finish his military service.

``I want to stay in the Army,'' Jones said. ``I love soldiering.''