This story has been updated with a statement from Prescott’s attorney.
Lt. Col. Deric Prescott, the former staff judge advocate at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, has been charged with stealing and trying to steal money from two companies that moved his household in different permanent change-of-station moves.
Prescott, who last year was reassigned from his job at Minot to Air Force Space Command while the Office of Special Investigations conducted an inquiry into his PCS moves, was charged June 15 with stealing more than $500 from Coleman World Group, and trying to steal more than $500 from Total Military Management, in violation of articles 121 and 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Prescott allegedly filed “a household goods claim [in 2017] which included items for which [he] was not entitled claims payment and would have resulted in such payment” if Total Military Management hadn’t noticed similarities between that and previous claims in 2011 and 2014.
Prescott was also charged with four specifications of violating article 107 of the UCMJ, or making false official statements to agents investigating the alleged fraud.
In an Aug. 16 statement, Prescott’s attorney, Frank Spinner, said he expects his name to be cleared.
“Lt. Col. Prescott is disappointed that the Air Force Times published a negative story about him without giving him an opportunity to comment first,” the statement said. “He is also disappointed that the Air Force he has served with integrity and honor for so many years is pursuing the reported adverse action. He expects to be fully vindicated by the end of this process and looks forward to resuming his career with the same integrity and devotion to duty he has always displayed.”
As staff judge advocate, Prescott served as the top lawyer at Minot, providing legal assistance and advice to commanders, first sergeants and other supervisors there. The legal office he oversaw also handled military justice for courts-martial and non-judicial punishment actions, as well as assisting service members, retirees and family members on personal, non-criminal legal matters such as wills.
An Article 32 preliminary hearing, in which the prosecution is required to show probable cause for the charges filed against Prescott, is scheduled for Sept. 6 at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, according to Stephen Brady, a spokesman for the 21st Space Wing.
According to the charge sheet, Prescott allegedly lied to special agents multiple times about household items that were, he claimed, repeatedly damaged in moves.
There was a decorative eagle, whose claw was allegedly broken off in 2011 and 2016. The charge sheet said Prescott told an agent earlier this year that he glued the claw back on after it was allegedly damaged the first time. The second time, Prescott allegedly told the agent that the claw broke off again, and the claw was lost.
Prescott also allegedly told an agent that movers bent a stand in 2014, which he was able to repair on his own. But in his 2016 move, Prescott allegedly said the stand was once again bent.
The charge sheet also said Prescott said movers smashed in the front screen and broke the back outlet of an electrical item in the 2011 move. Prescott allegedly said he was able to fix the back outlet’s plug two years later, but in the 2016 move, the rear plug had been broken again and its speakers were scratched.
Prescott also allegedly told an agent at Minot last July that sealing stickers for wooden crates used in a move had been ripped off when they arrived, and that an inspector had noted they were ripped.
In all those instances, Prescott is accused of making statements he knew were “totally false” and “with intent to deceive,” the charge sheet said.
Brady said the total amount of the money Prescott allegedly stole or tried to steal will be used at his trial and cannot be released at this point.
Brady said that the charges against Prescott are accusations, and he is presumed innocent until, and unless, he is proven guilty.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter at Defense News. He previously reported for Military.com, covering the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare. Before that, he covered U.S. Air Force leadership, personnel and operations for Air Force Times.