Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Criminals at Carlisle, Part II

Legal problems are continuing to mount for a U.S. Army Colonel accused of master-minding a DNA scam, to avoid paying increased support for a child he fathered by a former girlfriend.

Authorities in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania obtained an arrest warrant last week for Colonel Scott Carlson, who arranged for a fellow officer to provide a DNA sample, to "prove" that he wasn't the father of the nine-year-old child, who lives in Virginia with her mother.

Cumberland County District Attorney David J. Freed tells In From the Cold that he sought the arrest warrant after Carlson declined to cooperate with Pennsylvania investigators. In an e-mail interview, Mr. Freed indicated that his office has contacted Colonel Carlson several times since the investigation began, but prosecutors have "heard nothing" from the Army officer, who is now stationed in Egypt.

Freed reports that the other officer involved in the plot, Lieutenant Colonel Bruce Atkins, is cooperating with authorities, through his attorney. Both Atkins and Carlson were students at the U.S. Army War College, located at Carlisle Barracks in Cumberland County, when they attempted the DNA scam in early 2007.

It was not immediately clear when Carlson might be served with the arrest warrant, and returned to Pennsylvania for arraignment. Carlson and Atkins are facing multiple charges in connection with the incident, including fraud, tampering with or fabrication of physical evidence, tampering with public records, obstruction of the law, criminal conspiracy and solicitation, forgery, tampering and theft by deception. Atkins, who is now stationed in Georgia, has already been arraigned and released on bail.

According to Pennsylvania officials, the deception began when Carlson objected to a requested increase in support payments for his girlfriend's child, and sought to keep the situation secret from his wife and other children. Claiming that he was not the child's father, Carlson was told that he would have to provide a DNA sample as proof.

One month later--in April of this year--Lieutenant Colonel Atkins appeared at the Cumberland County Domestic Relations Office, presented Carlson's driver's license and provided both a DNA sample and fingerprints. Staffers became suspicious because Atkins clearly wasn't the officer who had appeared at their office in March, and his fingerprints and DNA (obviously) didn't match those of Carlson.

With information provided by the domestic relations office, District Attorney Freed launched an investigation in late summer, after Carlson and Atkins graduated from the War College. Army officials were unaware of the attempted deception, and allowed both men to complete the program, considered one of the most prestigious for senior military officers and Defense Department civilians.

Freed says officials at the War College, along with representatives of the Army's Criminal Investigative Division (CID) have been "extremely cooperative" during the investigation. He described Carlson's current overseas assignment as an "issue" in the case, but said it is not insurmountable.

Mr. Freed says he has "no reason to believe" that the Army will not continue its cooperation, by arranging for Carlson to return to Pennsylvania to face the criminal charges, which were filed on 4 October.

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