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Defense Attorney says airman only borrowed money from Air Force vault

Stars And Stripes
By Vince Little, Stars and Stripes
November 14, 2008

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The court-martial of a 374th Comptroller Squadron airman accused of stealing more than $9,000 in government funds from the unit’s vault began Wednesday.

Tech. Sgt. Craig Camacho, 38, is charged with one count each of wrongful appropriation and larceny. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to military prosecutors, Camacho stole the money between February and September 2007 when he worked as a deputy disbursing officer with the squadron.

He took money from the vault for his own personal gain,” said Capt. Felix Sutanto, one of three prosecutors. “He used it for … groceries, buying baby items and for gambling.”

The missing funds were discovered during a quarterly cash count in September 2007, according to testimony.

Lt. Col. Michael Crook, the 374th Comptroller Squadron commander, was among witnesses who took the stand Wednesday.

“Anything over $750 is [considered] a major loss of funds,” he told the court.

In opening arguments, civilian defense attorney Michael Waddington said there were protocol and security violations in regard to the vault and safe areas. He also said Camacho borrowed money with intent to pay it back.

“The fact is, this case isn’t about a missing $9,075,” Waddington said. “He admitted to borrowing money. But that’s a different crime. It should have been charged as wrongful appropriation across the board, not larceny.”

A six-member jury consists of two officers and four senior enlisted airmen. The trial is expected to last at least three days.

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