NAVY SUPPLY OFFICER CONVICTED OF ADULTERY
FEMALE LT COMMANDER GETS 60 DAYS IN BRIG
FINED TWO MONTH'S PAY - SYNEEDA PENLAND
BLEW WHISTLE ON "FINANCIAL MISCONDUCT" AT
SAN DIEGO'S NAVY EXPEDITIONARY COMBAT
COMMAND - DID TOP BRASS TARGET HER FOR
"RETALIATION?" - OFFICER HAS 19 YEARS SERVICE
COULD LOSE PENSION AND BENEFITS - OCS GRAD
REFUSED "GOING TO MAST" - WOULDN'T TAKE NJP
The prosecution produced not one "witness" to the alleged "adultery." Their claim that LCDR Syneeda Penland and LTJG Mark Wiggin had an affair were predicated entirely on several photographs of two people having sex - no faces could be seen - and specious e-mails, which could have been created by anyone having "access" to Wiggin's account.
Let's see. His ex-wife was the one who gave the pix to the prosecutors, so is it possible she might have dummied up some "incriminating" messages to be used to "prove" Penland did "the wild thing" with her former hubby? Stranger things have happened.
So sure she was of her innocence in the case, Penland took the risk of refusing to "go to mast" and accepting NJP (non-judicial punishment). Now she stands convicted of adultery, conduct unbecoming an officer, making a false official statement and failure to obey a lawful order.
AN UNFAIR PROSECUTION AND END OF A NAVY CAREER
Penland, 36, who served seven years as an enlisted woman and rose to her present rank after graduating from OCS in 1997, faces the very real possibility that after her two months in the brig are up, she will be forced out of the Navy without pension or benefits. The officer, with 19 years outstanding service behind her, is one year short of qualification for retirement.
Has she been treated fairly? It's all in the eye of the beholder. We recently did a story about a Navy admiral who was busted on 18 year-old "adultery" and "conduct unbecoming" charges. What happened to him was he got reduced a rank and is likely to be allowed to retire from the service.
In Penland's case, she is an African-American woman who angered the brass with irritating questions about alleged "financial misconduct" at the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) at San Diego. The officer had loudly complained since 2006 about improper funding for multi-million dollar building construction projects and "illegal hiring practices."
We can't have this! Who does she think she is? Why, she wrote her U.S. Congressman (Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.) and had the audacity to file complaints with the Department of Defense (DOD) and NECC Inspector General's office.
That's not nice or being a "team player."
The NECC complaint went in more than a year ago and yet no result has been announced. It normally takes six months to process and rule on a typical complaint. Why the delay here? Could it be the Navy didn't want to risk a finding in Penland's favor? That would derail their plans to ruin her career and grease the skids for Penland to be forced out of the service just before she became eligible for retirement benefits.
Now she's a convicted felon. That record, unless overturned on appeal, will follow the officer for the rest of her life. We wonder if any of the five captains and three commanders on the court-martial board have never once committed "adultery" or some other crime for which they were never caught?
When the very able defense attorney, Marine Capt. Patrick Callahan, tried to get the trial postponed until the all-important IG investigations are concluded, trial judge CMDR Robert Redcliff quickly turned "thumbs down.
ANOTHER "DOUBLE-STANDARD" OF JUSTICE
THE NAVY APPARENTLY SUCCEEDS IN SHUTTING UP A "WHISTLE-BLOWER"
We salute Navy TIMES for pressing forward with a query on the status of the IG investigations. However, we are sure they will meet with little or no success in this endeavor. The Navy wants to bury this case and get it off the plate as soon as possible. And, apparently, they will.
Oh, you might wonder what has happened to Penland's alleged married lover, LTJG Wiggins? He got divorced by his vindictive wife but the Navy gave him a good fitness report and commendation after he is said to have "confessed" to his superiors.
"Confessed" to what? Didn't Wiggins deny under oath during the trial he had a "sexual relationship" with Penland? Yet that didn't stop him from becoming a "prosecution witness" in this seamy case. We can only guess as to what Penland thinks of the lucky junior lieutenant while she serves her time in the brig and ponders the loss of her military career.