Five soldiers in the Army's elite Old Guard honor regiment, which performs ceremonial duties at such venues as the White House and Arlington National Cemetery, were charged yesterday with committing burglaries in Montgomery and Fairfax counties.
Pfc. Christopher Thomas Lee, 18; Pfc. Austin Wade Harris, 21; Spec. Clarence Ricky Williams, 22; and Pvt. Mark Saunders Stewart, 19, were arrested yesterday by Fairfax police and charged with burglary and grand larceny in three December break-ins. The four are being held without bond at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.
Meanwhile, police in Montgomery charged Pfc. Stefan Edward Hill, 19, with a burglary in Potomac over the Thanksgiving weekend. Montgomery police also have arrest warrants for Lee and Stewart, according to Officer Derek Baliles, a spokesman for the department. Hill was released yesterday on bond.
An investigation into the possible involvement of other soldiers is continuing, authorities said. Army officials said last week that seven soldiers from the Old Guard were under investigation.
"It looks like only four or five were involved in the actual break-ins," said Marc Raimondi, a spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command, which is leading the investigation. "It would be correct to say more arrests may be coming."
The Old Guard, known formally as the 3rd U.S. Infantry and based at Fort Myer in Arlington, is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army. The unit is supposed to serve as a goodwill ambassador, burnishing the Army's public image.
"The Old Guard is acclaimed as the single best unit that represents the epitome of excellence and discipline in the Army," the regiment's official Web site states.
The soldiers who have been charged all belong to Bravo Company, one of the regiment's primary funeral companies. The soldiers were assigned to normal duties, including burials at Arlington and ceremonies to greet visiting heads of state, said Jennifer Lafley, an Army spokeswoman.
Officials of the Military District of Washington, which includes the Old Guard, would not comment on the arrests or allow the soldiers' commanders or other members of the unit to be interviewed.
Fairfax police said charges were filed in break-ins committed between Dec. 13 and 21. Lee, Williams, Stewart and Harris were charged with home burglaries in the 9000 block of Falls Run Road and the 600 block of Ad Hoc Road, both in the Great Falls area of Fairfax. Stereo and computer equipment, cameras, jewelry and two handguns were stolen in those burglaries, authorities said.
Fairfax police also charged Stewart, Lee and Harris with burglarizing a Radio Shack store in the 3500 block of South Jefferson Street in Baileys Crossroads, from which electronic equipment and other items were stolen.
The burglary in Potomac occurred in the 9500 block of River Road. Thieves entered the house through a ventilation shaft in the roof and stole several cameras, two laptop computers and a desktop computer, police said. A 2000 Porsche and a 2001 Mercedes-Benz were also taken.
A member of the family living at the Potomac house said last week that police told the family that night vision goggles were used in the burglary, but military authorities discounted that assertion.
"Our investigation has not turned up any use of military equipment, any use of military tactics, or any use of government equipment whatsoever," Raimondi said.
Montgomery police incorrectly reported last week that three of the soldiers had been arrested by D.C. police Jan. 6 in the stolen Porsche. Authorities said yesterday that D.C. police seized the unoccupied car Jan. 6, acting on information from Army investigators.