October 9, 2020 – A former Commander of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison following his multiple convictions of obstructing justice and making false statements, in connection with the death of a civilian at the naval base.
Following a five- day trial, on Jan. 17, 2020, a federal jury in the Middle District of Florida convicted Captain John Nettleton, 53, of Jacksonville, Florida, of two counts of obstruction of justice, one count of concealment of material facts, one count of falsification of records, and two counts of making false statements, all related to his actions during the Navy’s investigation of the death of Christopher M. Tur, the Loss Prevention Safety Manager at GTMO’s Naval Exchange.
Nettleton was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan who also ordered Nettleton to serve one year of supervised release.
Tur, 42, was found drowned in the waters of Guantanamo Bay on Jan. 11, 2015. An autopsy revealed that Tur had suffered injuries prior to his drowning. At the time of Tur’s death, Nettleton was the commanding officer of GTMO.
“Nettleton misled and obstructed the investigators attempting to determine what happened to Mr. Tur, and this sentence ensures that he will pay a heavy price,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “That price, however, pales in comparison to that paid by the family of Mr. Tur, whose pain was compounded by Nettleton’s actions. The Department of Justice was proud to work closely with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) to hold Nettleton accountable for his obstruction, concealment, and false statements.”
“By deliberately misleading NCIS in the search for Mr. Tur and the ensuing investigation into the circumstances of his death, Captain Nettleton delayed justice and wasted valuable Department of the Navy resources,” said Special Agent in Charge Thomas Cannizzo of the NCIS Southeast Field Office. “NCIS is dedicated to holding accountable those who unlawfully impede investigations.”
The facts developed at trial showed that Tur confronted Nettleton at a party at the GTMO Officers’ Club on Jan. 9, 2015, with allegations that Nettleton and Tur’s spouse had engaged in an extramarital affair. Later that same evening, Tur went to Nettleton’s residence and a physical altercation ensued that left Tur injured. Tur was reported missing on Jan. 10, 2015, by other residents of GTMO. Despite knowing that Tur had been at his residence and injured during the altercation, Nettleton falsely informed his superior officers and other Navy personnel that Tur had last been seen at the Officer’s Club the night before. Nettleton also did not report that Tur had accused him of the extramarital affair, that Nettleton and Tur had engaged in a physical altercation at Nettleton’s residence, or that Tur had been injured. Nettleton persisted in this concealment and these false statements as the search for Tur and then the investigation into the circumstances of his death continued.
NCIS investigated the case and Deputy Chiefs Todd Gee and Peter M. Nothstein of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case.