Speaking of disclosing convictions on an application: Did a Caroline County Sheriff’s Office sergeant disclose his involvement in the tear gas attack of a gay bar when he was hired?
Prologue: I had originally planned on publishing this post on Monday but I deferred posting for one reason. The person involved, Travis Nutter, was one of the investigators which worked on the Joseph Beverley murder case for which John Wayne Peck was on trial for earlier this week. Since I did not know if Nutter would be testifying during the trial for the case, and out of concern for some juror who might have tried to Google his name and find some reason not to believe what he testified to, I opted not to publish this post until after the trial concluded. And, yes, I’m aware that jurors are not supposed to use to Internet to check up on witnesses nor defendants, but given the number of morons that were obviously on that jury I believe my concern was well-founded. Anyway…
It’s amazing the stuff you can find on the internet by accident.
He was also given a bad conduct discharge by the United States Marine Corps according to The Washington Blade:
A former Marine who was given a bad conduct discharge from the military six years ago for his involvement in the tear-gas attack on a Capitol Hill gay bar is currently working as a deputy sheriff in southern Virginia.
Travis Lee Nutter is employed as a deputy in the Caroline County Police Department [sic], located south of Fredericksburg, Va., according to Deputy Sheriff Roger [sic] Moser.
Moser said he was unaware of Nutter’s involvement in the 1997 incident, which gay activists have characterized as a hate crime. According to Moser, Nutter was hired as a Caroline County police officer [sic] in 2000.
The incident dates back to the summer of 1997, when a group of five U.S. Marines, stationed at the Marine Barracks at Eighth and I Streets, in Southeast, D.C., threw a CS grenade, containing tear gas, inside Remington’s, a gay country-western themed bar, just six blocks from the base.
The following year Nutter, along with the other Marines involved, served brig time, was demoted to private status and was given a bad conduct discharge from the military as a result of the incident.
According to Moser, Caroline County Police Department authorities are aware of Nutter’s military background. But Moser would not comment when asked if he knew of the details surrounding Nutter’s discharge from the Marines. Moser also would not say if the department would investigate whether Nutter lied about his involvement in the ’97 incident when he applied to join the force.
It could not be confirmed by Blade deadline if Nutter had been convicted of any crime for his involvement in the Remington’s incident, but coverage of the attack in the Blade seven years ago documented Nutter’s demotion and bad conduct discharge from the military.
“We don’t hire any convicted felons,” Moser said. “By Virginia law, you can’t carry a weapon if you’ve been convicted of a felony.”
Moser added that the Caroline County Sheriff’s office conducts a National Criminal & Intelligence check on all applicants.
Moser said all applicants must pass a criminal background check, and a federal background investigation before being considered for the position. But because the Remington’s case was handled by military authorities, it may not have appeared on a criminal background check.
The Blade this week requested Nutter’s discharge records from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and was told that the request would take “several days.”
When Moser was asked if he had viewed Nutter’s military discharge records prior to hiring him, he said he was “not at liberty to discuss anything involving an officer’s personal issues.”
Nutter did not return calls seeking comment.
The Blade reported in early 1998 that Nutter, who was 21 at the time, was charged with conspiracy in aiding Ryan M. Barrett, the Marine who threw the tear gas grenade into Remington’s. Barrett pleaded guilty to conspiracy, assault and theft charges that year during a court martial proceeding at the Marine base in Quantico, Va.Barrett admitted that he threw a CS grenade — commonly known as a tear gas grenade, which is often used to control crowds during outdoor riots and other disturbances — into the gay bar.
The CS grenade was thrown into Remington’s at 2:15 a.m., on Saturday, July 12, 1997; about 70 patrons were inside at the time. No serious injuries were reported, but shortly after the attack, Remington’s owner Steven Smith told the Blade that many customers and employees had suffered stinging in their eyes and throats.
Authorities charged the Marines with conspiracy to commit assault, assault, wrongful disposition of property (the tear gas grenade), breach of peace, and underage drinking.
Five months after the incident, a judge in a military court martial sentenced Barrett to four months confinement in a brig, lowered his military status to private and issued a bad conduct discharge.
Nutter was demoted to private; the lowest military rank, and was one of five Marines sentenced to a 35-70 day confinement in the brig.
Nutter was given a bad conduct discharge for his involvement in the incident.
After the sentencing of the other four Marines in ‘98, the Marine Corps prosecutor of that case, Maj. Joseph Bowe, told the Blade that the bad conduct discharges, and the fact that these men had been convicted of crimes listed as federal offenses will remain on the records of the four for the rest of their lives.
It could not be confirmed by Blade deadline if Nutter had been convicted of any crimes listed as federal offenses, but he did receive a bad conduct discharge from the military in February of 1998.
For those that are unaware, a bad conduct discharge is just one level about a dishonorable discharge. And while I don’t see where The Washington Blade did any follow-up regarding whether Nutter was actually convicted of any crime for the whole accident, what I did find out online regarding a bad conduct discharge says that it can only be given to a someone as the result of a court martial which leaves me to believe that Nutter was convicted of something.
And while Homer Johnson bears the responsibility for hiring Nutter, it was Lippa that retained Nutter as investigator even after his office learned the full details of Nutter’s separation from the military.
And to make matters even worst, Nutter was just promoted to sergeant where he “will serve as the first line supervisor for the Investigative Division” according to Portsia Smith’s “Caroline Crossroads” blog at Fredericksburg.com.
I guess everyone deserves a second chance, except for that monster Ben Boyd of course. </snark>