A decorated Navy SEAL will lose as much as $200,000 of his retirement fund because he was demoted after a conviction of posing with a dead war captive in 2017, the U.S chief of naval operations ruled Tuesday, upholding a military jury’s sentence.
Nineteen-year veteran Edward Gallagher – who was previously awarded two Bronze Stars – will have his rank reduced from chief petty officer to 1st class petty officer. Adm. Mike Gilday denied a request for clemency from Gallagher’s attorneys, his office said Tuesday.
A military jury acquitted Gallagher this summer of murder in the death of the wounded captive, attempted murder in the shootings of unarmed Iraqi civilians and other charges related to his deployment to Mosul, Iraq. He was convicted of the single count of posing with the casualty.
Gallagher was given the maximum sentence of four months' confinement and ordered to forfeit $2,697 of pay for each of those months. He served no jail time, however, and was only required to pay the forfeiture for two months because he had spent nearly nine months in pre-trial custody.
Gallagher's lawyer, Timothy Parlatore, said Tuesday’s ruling was a let-down.
"Absent a presidential tweet, this is likely to be the final decision," he said, referencing President Trump's previous tweets in support of Gallagher, including one from July 3 congratulating Gallagher on his acquittal.
Defense attorneys had argued that the case was riddled with misconduct and Gallagher was framed by disgruntled junior platoon members who fabricated the allegations to oust their chief. Others who posed next to the body were not punished or were granted immunity in exchange for testifying, Parlatore argued in court.
A judge at one point removed the lead prosecutor over a bungled effort that used software to track emails sent to defense lawyers to find the source of leaks to the news media.
The jurist determined the effort violated Gallagher's constitutional rights and, before the case went to trial, reduced the maximum possible punishment for the murder charge from life in prison without parole to life with the possibility of parole.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.