After warnings by general, more criminal histories uncovered of - WSMV Channel 4

After warnings by general, more criminal histories uncovered of guardsmen

Posted: Updated: Oct 14, 2016 06:48 PM
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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Two weeks after the general of the Tennessee National Guard chastised his top recruiters for questionable behavior exposed by the Channel 4 I-Team, more cases of guardsmen with criminal pasts have emerged.

An ongoing I-Team investigation has exposed military investigations and civilian criminal courts finding criminal behavior on the part of guardsmen. Tennessee guardsmen were found by military investigators to have had sex with prostitutes while on a mercy mission overseas. A top recruiter was also found by investigators to have given his prescription pills to the wife of a guardsman with whom he was having an affair.

On March 24, Adjutant General Terry Haston and his top staff delivered a harsh lecture in the wake of a series of I-Team investigations. Click here to read more.

Yet the I-Team investigation continues to find guardsmen with criminal histories who remain in the guard.

We found Lt. Col. Stephen Jaco was convicted last year of DUI and possession of a handgun while under the influence.

First Sgt. Julius Santini was charged with a felony for theft of over $10,000.

Santini was never convicted, instead, his charge ultimately ended in what’s called a “retirement.” Because he stayed out of trouble for a year, it’s as if the charge never existed, except for in court records.

Whistleblowers within the Tennessee National Guard have questioned why guardsmen with criminal pasts and charges have remained in their jobs.

"You're the face of the oldest military organization in the country. You should be above reproach," said one recruiter.

The I-Team has been investigating how guardsmen with criminal histories are still allowed to keep their jobs, and the answer may be in an enlistment manual.

The Army National Guard enlistment manual shows that waivers can be granted for some criminal acts.

For example, in Jaco’s case, his two misdemeanor convictions require a waiver.

We asked a spokesman for the Tennessee National Guard to comment on Jaco and Santini’s cases, but he did not respond to our repeated requests for an interview.

However, we did speak with Anthony Clark, Jaco’s attorney.

"Someone who has been convicted of a DUI while in possession of a handgun. Is that the kind of person who should remain in the National Guard?" asked chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.

"He has been convicted but is on appeal. We believe we have issues that the court of appeals will look at favorably in this instance. I think ultimately, the conviction will be overturned,” Clark said.

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