source GAIA package: Sx_MilitaryTimes_M6201210210160315_5675.zip Origin key: Sx_MilitaryTimes_M6201210210160315 imported at Fri Jan 8 18:18:07 2016
Former Col. James H. Johnson III, convicted of fraud and bigamy, has left the Army after being reduced in rank to lieutenant colonel.
Johnson, the former commander of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, retired at midnight Sept. 30, according to U.S. Army Europe officials. His clemency request to reduce a court-imposed fine of $300,000 was rejected, according to his attorney, Lt. Col. Charles Kuhfahl. Johnson paid the fine July 27. Because of the fine's size, Johnson's case was automatically referred to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals for review, according to Kuhfahl, regional defense counsel at the Army Trial Defense Service in Europe.
Johnson was convicted of 15 counts and found guilty of two others, all related to his illicit affair with an Iraqi woman named Haveen Al-Atar, the use of government funds to visit her in the Netherlands and his efforts to steer contracts to her father. He had faced decades in prison, but a panel recommended that he be fined $300,000, or given six months' confinement, if he did not pay.
Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of U.S. Army Europe, recommended that Johnson, with more than 26 years in the Army, be reduced in rank to major. However, there was no evidence that Johnson's service as a lieutenant colonel had been unsatisfactory, Kuhfahl said.
Johnson's former wife, Kristina, said the couple's divorce in Florida was finalized Sept. 25. They had two children together and were married more than 25 years.
Under their divorce agreement, she said she is entitled to roughly half of his retirement pay, though her portion could be reduced based on his disability rating, she said.
Kristina Johnson said she did not know whether her former husband was still living in Germany or what his current relationship is with Al-Atar.
Johnson's inglorious exit from the Army represents a stunning fall. He is a West Point graduate and the son of retired Lt. Gen. James H. Johnson Jr., who led Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He had deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, South Korea and Honduras, and he commanded the storied 173rd "Sky Soldiers" from October 2008 until his dismissal in Europe 30 months later.
Johnson's legal troubles began in 2011, when his then-wife emailed Army authorities about her husband's illicit activities, which led to an investigation and his loss of command.
Later that year, Johnson married Al-Atar by double proxy, meaning neither party was present at the ceremony. The wedding took place in Montana, the only state that allows such marriages.
Johnson provided a phony "certificate of divorce" to the military to have Kristina Johnson removed from his Tricare benefit.