IN THE MILITARY
Pearl officer sentenced to 1 year for fraternizing
A PEARL HARBOR lieutenant has been sentenced to a year in jail and dismissal from the Navy after being convicted of fraternizing with three women, including an enlisted woman who later became his wife, and several other charges.
Lt. Tobias Chappell, supply officer on the 280-member destroyer USS Chung-Hoon, had pled guilty on Monday to three charges of fraternization with different women -- one from his prior command and two from his current command, including Petty Officer Tonya Yarbrough, whom he later married.
The maximum penalty for fraternization, which the military defines as "an inappropriate relationship" between persons of different ranks, is two years in jail and dismissal from the Navy.
However, Lt. Barbara Mertz, Navy spokeswoman, said a seven-member court-martial panel chose to sentence Chappell late Friday night to serve only one year. He also has to forfeit all pay and allowances.
Besides the fraternization charges, Chappell also was convicted of obstruction of justice, withholding information, and two specifications of cruelty and maltreatment of two subordinates.
He was the last of 13 Pearl Harbor sailors who were accused of fraternization and adultery, which the Navy said occurred between September 2004, when the destroyer was commissioned at Pearl Harbor, and April. The sailors ranged in rank from seaman to lieutenant.
His wife, Yarbrough -- who had been convicted at a special court-martial Aug. 2 for two specifications of unauthorized absence, disrespect to a superior petty officer and two instances of fraternization -- agreed to testify against him as part of her plea agreement. The two married in December and have a daughter.
She had worked for Chappell as the head enlisted person in the destroyer's supply department.
Yarbrough was sentenced to six months' confinement, reduction in rank to seaman recruit, forfeiture of $750 pay a month for six months and a bad-conduct discharge. In the pretrial agreement, Yarbrough's confinement was limited to 90 days, which she recently completed.