The commander of a Port Hueneme Navy base has withdrawn charges against three Navy security officers facing court-martial and turned the case over to naval investigators off base to avoid any perception of biased prosecution.
The case involves three men, including a Navy whistle-blower who claims to be a victim of "vindictive prosecution" for his part in uncovering the misuse of a naval base in Bermuda by high-ranking Navy personnel at taxpayer expense.
Rear Adm. David J. Nash, the commanding officer of Port Hueneme's Naval Construction Battalion Center, announced Saturday that the case was being reassigned to an independent Navy investigator to guarantee that the three men are fairly treated.
"Allegations have recently been made that question the motivation for prosecution of the three cases," Nash said in a prepared statement. "A transfer to a convening authority outside of my command is necessary to remove any perception of bias."
The announcement follows a defense motion filed by the attorney for three men accused of improper conduct for arresting a Navy deserter off the base without prior approval. In the motion, defense attorney Lt. Carter Brod alleges that Nash and other officers pursued the case to punish Senior Chief Petty Officer George Taylor, one of the defendants, for publicly blowing the whistle about misuse of the Bermuda base as a vacation spot for top brass.
Taylor went public with the story by appearing on the ABC-TV news program "Prime Time Live" in December, 1992. A crew from the TV show came to the base the day after Brod filed his defense motion.
"I think it was a one-two punch," Brod said. "We filed our motion and the next day Sam Donaldson showed up. That's why they withdrew the charges."