Former Army Reserve officer sentenced for taking $442,000 in unearned pay

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EUGENE (AP) — A former Army reserve commander was sentenced to six months in a halfway house after taking $442,000 in pay he did not earn.

John C. Amos, 51, of Newport was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve until his 28-year military career ended with Wednesday’s felony sentence, The Register-Guard reported (http://bit.ly/ZitoOp ).

At his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Amos acknowledged accepting active duty pay that the Army erroneously sent him for almost five years after he left active status at Umatilla Army Depot in Hermiston.

He failed to notify the Army that he was still getting the higher pay and did not take the normal steps to formally separate from active duty, government documents said.

Amos was paid about $10,000 a month starting in 2004 when he began his last active-duty hitch, and he continued receiving that pay after returning to reserve duty in April 2007. The military did not catch the error until last year.

Amos pleaded guilty to a crime known as “misprision of felony,” which occurs when someone conceals or fails to report a felony crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Potter described it as greed. Authorities said Amos had been unable to find work after returning to reserve status and simply kept collecting his active-duty pay to maintain a lifestyle that included a time-share vacation program and online stock trading.

“There needs to be a punishment for what happened here,” Potter said in seeking a prison sentence. “Instead of doing what he was supposed to do, he collected $400,000.”

In seeking to keep his client out of prison, federal public defender Bryan Lessley cited Amos’ excellent record, volunteer work for his community, and obligations to his wife and daughter. He called Amos a moral man who posed no threat to society and said it would be a waste of public money to put him in prison.

U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken said a lieutenant colonel must set an example for those under him, and it would be a disservice to Amos if she didn’t hold him accountable.

The judge gave Amos a choice: Six months in prison and one year of probation, or six months in a halfway house and five years of probation.

Amos, who also must try to repay the money he took and mostly spent, picked the halfway house, which will allow him to look for work and start community service.

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