A special agent with Army Criminal Investigation Command faces criminal charges after allegedly lying about his military service, Army officials said Thursday, complicating a case he was assigned in which a former Green Beret officer has been charged with murder.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark A. Delacruz, who is assigned to the Army CID office at Fort Bragg, N.C., was charged with the unauthorized wearing of a Purple Heart, Air Assault Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Combat Action Badge and is accused of submitting a package to an Army promotion board that stated he was awarded a Purple Heart when he was not, said Jeffrey Castro, an Army spokesman. The Purple Heart is awarded to service members who have been wounded or killed in combat.
The charges, if proved, amount to what U.S. troops refer to as “stolen valor,” when service members claim details about their military service that are not true in ways that benefit them. Delacruz has been suspended from his duties since the allegations came to light late last year, Castro said.
The accusations, first reported by NBC News on Thursday, complicate the case of Army Maj. Mathew L. Golsteyn, who is accused of premeditated murder in connection with the death of a man in Afghanistan in 2010. Golsteyn, 38, was charged in December following an on-and-off investigation that dates back to 2011, when the former Green Beret acknowledged during a job interview with the CIA that he killed an unarmed man whom he believed to be a Taliban bombmaker.
Golsteyn’s lawyer, Phillip Stackhouse, said Wednesday in a letter to the commander of Army Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette, that Golsteyn was waiving his right to what is known as an Article 32 hearing, which examines evidence in the case, in part because of the charges against Delacruz.
Stackhouse wrote that since about 2016, the agent for Golsteyn’s case was Delacruz.
“It has come to our attention, not from the prosecutors in this case, but through anonymous sources and later verified by documentation that Special Agent [Delacruz] has committed acts of ‘Stolen Valor’ and is currently being prosecuted for lying and wearing, of all things, a Purple Heart Medal among other awards and devices he did not earn,” the letter said.
The Army declined Thursday to address Stackhouse’s allegations, stating “no further information” about Delacruz’s case would be “released at this time.” The service also declined to say what other cases Delacruz was working on. He joined the Army in 2004 and arrived at Fort Bragg in August 2017.
Golsteyn, speaking in an interview last week with The Washington Post, accused the Army of not following its own rules in its investigation. He acknowledged killing the man, named Rasoul, but said he did so during a legal ambush after other U.S. troops had released him.
Golsteyn said his case was tainted by another Army investigator inaccurately stating in an early investigative report that he had admitted in the CIA job interview to the “assassination” of the suspected bombmaker in his own home. That was not the case, Golsteyn said. The Army has declined to release a transcript of that interview or a 2015 administrative hearing at which the issue was discussed.
In a letter to Beaudette on Thursday obtained by The Washington Post, Golsteyn called for the general to dismiss the charge against him in light of how Army investigators have handled his case.
"The military justice system has been compromised in my case and it will take commanders with the moral courage to act decisively to restore integrity to this process,” Golsteyn wrote. “It is my sincere hope that this petition has found that commander who has the courage to exercise the authority given to them by the [Uniform Code of Military Justice].”