The lead investigator into allegations that an Army Green Beret major murdered an alleged Taliban bomb maker in Afghanistan has pleaded guilty to falsifying his military record and wearing the Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Purple Heart medal, none of which he had earned.
On Monday at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Sgt. 1st Class Mark A. Delacruz pleaded guilty to two specifications of violating Article 107, false official statement and three specifications of violating Article 134, wearing of unauthorized insignia, badges and ribbons, according to a statement by Lt. Col. Mike Burns, Fort Bragg Public Affairs.
Delacruz admitted he had falsely submitted a Purple Heart in his official military file and then certified that file was correct when sending it to the official promotion board for E-7 and above.
He also admitted that he wore the Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Purple Heart he did not earn and wore them in an official Army photo that was also submitted in his official file.
Delacruz was reduced in rank from sergeant first class, E-7, to specialist, E-4. No information was immediately available as to whether he would face other consequences.
He could not be reached for comment.
Maj. Mathew Golsteyn attended part of the Monday hearing and told Army Times that questions by both prosecutors and defense attorneys minimized what Delacruz had done.
Attorneys in the Delacruz case said it “would be inappropriate” for them to comment on the case or any effect it might have on Golsteyn’s case.
Golsteyn faces a potential court-martial for the alleged unauthorized killing of a suspected Taliban bomb maker during a 2010 combat deployment in which he supervised an Operational Detachment Alpha team and Marines during one of the more intense time periods of fighting in the country.
Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesman Chris Grey told Army Times that Delacruz had been suspended from all investigative duties when the allegations of stolen valor came to light in late 2018. He was charged on Jan. 31.
Grey declined to comment on if or how the guilty plea and sentencing would affect the Golsteyn case.
Golsteyn was charged in December and was called back from civilian life and work in the Northern Virginia area with his family to Fort Bragg, where he has been ordered to report twice daily.
Golsteyn maintains his innocence and characterizes the Army’s treatment as unjust as he cleared a board of inquiry on the allegations, which recommended a general discharge and found no clear evidence that he had violated the rules of engagement while deployed.
Following his charging in December, President Donald Trump tweeted about Golsteyn’s case:
“At the request of many, I will be reviewing the case of a ‘U.S. Military hero,’ Major Matt Golsteyn, who is charged with murder. He could face the death penalty from our own government after he admitted to killing a Terrorist bomb maker while overseas,” he tweeted.
An Article 32 hearing for Golsteyn was scheduled for March 14 but that was cancelled, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Golsteyn had waived his right to the Article 32, he told Army Times.
There has not yet been a court-martial date set in the case.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.