Marines officer pleads guilty to assault, violating orders in hazing incident

The Beaufort GazetteJuly 16, 2013 

— A noncommissioned officer stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and charged with hazing pleaded guilty to assault and violating orders during a summary court-martial last week, according to an air station spokesman.

Staff Sgt. Justin Samford, an air traffic controller, pleaded guilty to two charges of assault and two charges of violating the Marine Corps’ anti-hazing policy, said Capt. Jordan Cochran, air station public affairs officer. Samford was ordered to 45 days restriction and will forfeit two-thirds of his salary for one month, Cochran said.

Samford was charged May 20 with violating orders, maltreatment, falsifying an official statement and assault, Cochran said.

Cochran said he did not know details of the incidents leading to Samford’s court-martial.

Gunnery Sgt. James McArthur, an air traffic controller in the same unit, also is accused of violating the service’s order on hazing, maltreatment and obstructing justice, Cochran said. McArthur’s court-martial is scheduled for Sept. 3 through 6, Cochran said.

The charges stem from an investigation launched Dec. 12 by the air station’s commanding officer, Col. Brian Murtha. A Marine in their chain of command alleged mistreatment by Samford and McArthur, according to a Marine Corps news release.

The investigation was completed by the Criminal Investigative Division, which is the investigative arm of the base’s senior law-enforcement officer.

Cochran reiterated Monday that “all leaders aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are entrusted with ensuring all Marines are treated with dignity, care and respect. Hazing will not be tolerated in any form in our Marine Corps.”

The Corps’ hazing policy requires “victims and anyone observing such activity” to report all violations.

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