Prosecutors: Army reservist inflated role with military
As a newly minted officer in the U.S. Army reserves, Scott Allan Bennett received rave reviews from his superiors at the 11th Psychological Operations Battalion during his first evaluation as a 2nd Lieutenant. Bennett, a personnel officer, was lauded, among other things, for devising a system to ensure evaluations were done on time. He was recommended for promotion. "His future with the Army is unlimited," wrote one superior officer. Then came the lies, prosecutors say.Even before his evaluation was done, Bennett wrote an email to his civilian employer, military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, seeking a position at MacDill Air Force Base. In the email, Bennett inflated his role with the Army. In the email, introduced this morning at Bennett's federal trial on charges that he lied his way onto housing at MacDill Air Force Base, Bennett told Booz Allen Hamilton officials that he was a "psychological operations officer" with counterterrorism experience and an "Islam analyst" who had worked with U.S. Special Operations Command and the State Department. He wrote that he had a secondary military specialty as a personnel officer. But that wasn't true, Lt. Col. Joel Droba, an Army reservist and commander of Bennett's battalion, testified. Bennett was not a psychological operations officer, had not undergone the training, and served in a support role as a personnel officer. And Bennett never had any orders from Special Operations Command during his tenure with the battalion. Army Lt. Col Frank Harrar, aide de camp to Special Operations Command chief Adm. Eric Olson, later testified that Socom had no record of contracts with Bennett. In January, 2010, Booz Allen Hamilton approved a contract for Bennett to work as a counter-threat finance analyst at the Joint Intelligence Operations Center at U.S. Central Command. Later that month, investigators say that after arriving at MacDill on a flight with Special Operations Command commander Adm. Eric Olson, Bennett told base housing officials that though he didn't have all the documentation he needed to move onto the base, he was an aide to the admiral, was on a secret mission and needed housing immediately. Housing officials allowed him to move in despite not having provided copies of his orders or a military pay stub. Then at about 2 a.m. on April 23, he showed up at the Dale Mabry gate and was stopped for a routine security inspection. An inspection of his car found two knives and an empty gun holster. Bennett denied having more weapons when asked by a guard. Bennett, according to investigators, appeared confused during the encounter, and Tampa police were called in. Police found a concealed weapon on Bennett and upon inspection of the car found a loaded handgun, three more knives, a box of throwing stars, a large machete, a collapsible baton, a sling shot with BBs and mace. Bennett also had a stun gun and had concealed weapons permits from Utah and Virginia. After being released by police, Bennett returned to the gate, where he was arrested and read his rights. Bennett refused a request by Air Force police to inspect his base housing, and investigators obtained a search warrant through a military court. Once inside Bennett's housing, investigators found seven loaded firearms, 9,389 rounds of ammunition, numerous knives, an electric stun gun and a collapsible baton in addition to other weapons and unnamed prohibited material. Under MacDill regulations, Bennett was supposed to report any weapons and ammunition. According to investigators, he failed to do so. Bennett was fired by Booz Allen Hamilton shortly after the incident at the gate. The DUI charges against Bennett were dropped by state prosecutors after Bennett, 40, was charged with one count of making a false statement on a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government, one count of wearing his uniform without authorization and one count of violating a defense property security agreement by storing weapons and ammunition in his apartment without permission of the base. Bennett has pleaded not guilty. The prosecution is scheduled to rest its case early tomorrow and it may go to the jury Thursday afternoon. Defense attorneys would not say whether Bennett will take the stand. Shortly after the incident at the Dale Mabry gate, Droba wrote a second annual review of Bennett, who is still in the reserves, but has been stripped of his access to MacDill and his top secret security clearance. While he was still performing his military duties in an exemplary fashion, Bennett failed the honor and integrity portions of the review. "Did Lt. Bennett discredit the Army?" a prosecutor asked Drobna this morning. "In my opinion," he replied, "yes."
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