A Navy master chief is headed to trial this spring on charges that he mistreated subordinates, assaulted a sailor and forced a subordinate to falsify a COVID-19 test result, among other alleged infractions.
Hospital Corpsman Master Chief Ryan T. De La Cruz, assigned to the amphibious transport dock ship Portland, faces a maltreatment charge for allegedly forcing a subordinate to sing the Navy’s “Anchors Aweigh” song while in a push-up position in front of his peers, and for forcing the sailor to “carry two snickerdoodle cookies for two weeks,” according to his charge sheet.
Prosecutors allege that De La Cruz also made the sailor “exercise while in coveralls in front of his peers” and threatened to punch him “in his throat,” the charge sheet states.
De La Cruz is also accused of ordering the sailor to stand at a “refocus wall” for extended periods of time.
De La Cruz also allegedly made a female sailor subordinate stand at a refocus wall and exercise in coveralls on the ship from December 2020 to April, according to the charge sheet.
The master chief is also accused of calling that sailor a “bitch and ‘BBDub’ or words to that effect,” according to the charge sheet.
Prosecutors further allege that he told that sailor “that she was giving him ‘blackitude’ while standing in formation in front of her peers,” according to the charge sheet.
De La Cruz is also accused of ordering another sailor to exercise in coveralls in front of his peers and restricting their liberty from June to August 2020.
He faces a false official statement charge for allegedly ordering a subordinate sailor to falsely report a negative COVID test result as a positive, according to the charge sheet.
De La Cruz’s civilian attorney, Stephanie Kral, told Navy Times that the charges are “merely accusations.”
“HMCM De La Cruz has always wanted the best for his Sailors,” she said in a statement. “He was shocked and dismayed when he learned he was under investigation.”
“The charge sheet is lacking important context, which we are certain will be brought to light at his trial,” she said, adding that his trial is scheduled for March.
De La Cruz is also charged with assault for allegedly punching another sailor in the chest on March 25, the charge sheet states.
He faces another charge for unlawfully consuming alcohol while underway as well.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.