A Marine alleged to have connections to a neo-Nazi organization faced a summary court-martial on June 18 , and now is being processed for administrative separation.
Lance Cpl. Vasillios G. Pistolis was found guilty at Monday’s hearing and was hit with the near maximum punishment allowed for a summary court-martial: 28 days of confinement, reduction in rank to E-1, and forfeiture of two-thirds pay for one month.
Initial reports of Pistolis’ court-martial led to some confusion with prominent social activists, decrying the Corps’ decision to keep in an alleged neo-Nazi.
The misunderstanding was largely rooted in the administrative process of the military justice system: the Corps simply had not yet made a decision on separation.
“Pistolis has been notified that he is being processed for administrative separation. His confinement will be carried out at the Marine Corps Installations East’s regional brig at Camp Lejeune,” Marine spokesman 1st Lt. Samir J. Glenn-Roundtree said in a press release.
A summary court-martial generally is used for minor offenses. Pistolis was charged with Article 92, failure to obey a regulation, and Article 107, making false official statements.
Following sentencing, Pistolis was afforded seven days to submit a request for leniency to the convening officer to have his sentence reduced, a standard rule for courts-martial.
The maximum penalty of a lance corporal for a summary court-martial is “reduction in rank to E-1 and up to 30 days confinement, or 60 days restriction,” Glenn-Roundtree said in the release.
But summary courts-martial can be used as the basis for administrative separation. Pistolis always faced the possibility of being separated despite the initial Monday sentencing.
The Marine Corps has a zero-tolerance policy for participation in a extremist groups or white supremacist organizations. And what defines participation can be relatively broad.
The Corps has already exercised that authority twice when it booted Sgt. Michael J. Chesny and Staff Sgt. Joseph W. Manning in April and December, respectively, for ties to white supremacist groups.
ProPublica exposed Pistolis’ connection to neo-Nazi organization known as Atomwaffen Division and his actions at the violent “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where one died.
Pistolis is assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 8, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.