Judge refuses request from convict wanting military pension

AP News
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Posted: Jan 08, 2016 7:30 PM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A federal judge won't delay sentencing for a Wyoming man convicted of sex crimes against a child in order to allow the man to qualify for a military pension.

Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne on Friday rejected the request from Wyoming Army National Guard Lt. Timothy Wells of Cheyenne.

Wells was convicted in October of sexual exploitation of a child and other charges. He faces at least 15 years in prison at sentencing this month, prosecutors have said.

The crimes Wells was convicted of committing against the child occurred at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, prosecutors have said.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Jim Barrett recently asked Johnson to release Wells from custody temporarily and reschedule his sentencing for April.

Barrett told Johnson the delay was necessary so Wells could finish 20 years of military service necessary to qualify for a pension that would provide for his family while he is incarcerated.

Barrett declined comment on Friday.

Johnson stated in his order that the law would require exceptional circumstances to release Wells before sentencing, given he's been convicted of crimes that could carry a maximum life sentence.

Johnson stated that while Wells had complied with all requirements of pretrial release, Wells could now have a greater incentive to flee because he faces certain imprisonment. The judge said he could also pose a threat to the victim or others if released.

Keeping Wells in custody will cause him personal and professional hardship, Johnson said. However, the judge said that's the case with everyone facing incarceration.

Johnson originally had scheduled Wells' sentencing for Jan. 12. Johnson postponed it on Friday at prosecutors' request until Jan. 21 to accommodate a witness's schedule.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne prosecuted Wells. John R. Powell, spokesman for the office, declined comment on the case on Friday.

Prosecutors filed a sworn statement this week from Capt. Michael S. McGee, Jr., commander of the company to which Wells had been assigned with the Wyoming Army National Guard.

McGee stated Wells, 47, had accrued more than 19 years and nine months of service toward non-regular military retirement. McGee stated Wells would reach the required 20 years for a pension if he remained in the military until March 4.

McGee stated Wells wouldn't have to perform additional training or duty to quality for retirement on March 4. "It is simply a matter of reaching his 20 years of service in March 2016 prior to being separated from service," McGee stated.

Assuming the Secretary of the Army didn't forfeit Wells requirement based on his convictions, McGee stated Wells would be eligible to start drawing his retirement, if he qualified for it, at age 60.