Scott Friedman, NBC 5 Investigates
An NBC 5 Investigates story has prompted Capitol Hill to take action. Three members of Congress have introduced a bill that wold block the pay of soldiers accused of serious crimes.
An NBC 5 investigation prompted action Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Three congressmen introduced a bill that would block the pay of soldiers who are accused of serious crimes.
In May, NBC 5 Investigates first reported that Maj. Nidal Hasan has been paid nearly $300,000 since the Nov. 5, 2009, shooting rampage at Fort Hood that left 13 dead and 32 injured.
"It's outrageous to think this guy has a bank account that's being paid for with our tax dollars," Florida Rep. Tom Rooney said.
Rooney, a former prosecutor at Fort Hood, joined efforts with Rep. Tim Griffin and Rep. Frank Wolf to introduce the Stop Pay for Violent Offenders Act, which would allow the military to suspend pay for Hasan and other members of the military arrested in connection with serious crimes. The money would be set aside pending the outcome of the trial. If a soldier is convicted, the money would be paid to the victims.
"I do believe this is good policy, and we know that the government believes that, too, because other agencies utilize it," Rooney said.
The Defense Department can already suspend the pay of a civilian employee arrested in connection with serious crimes, but soldiers are treated differently because they fall under a different set of rules. The Army says it must pay Hasan unless he's convicted.
In a recent interview with NBC 5 Investigates, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said he would support efforts to block pay for Hasan and other soldiers accused of major crimes.
"I don't really understand why it's taken so long to bring Maj. Hasan to trial, but it's really adding insult to injury that he's receiving all of this pay during the interim," Cornyn said.
The legislation introduced Tuesday will be welcome news for some of the victims of the Fort Hood shooting. They say they have been outraged to see Hasan paid while they have been denied some of the benefits given to soldiers wounded in attacks overseas.
Retired Army Spc. Logan Burnett, a reservist who was about to be deployed to Iraq in 2009, was shot three times when a gunman opened fire inside the Army Deployment Center at Fort Hood.
Burnett was stunned to see a letter from the Department of Defense detailing the more $278,000 that Hasan has been paid since his arrest.
"There have been times when my wife and I cannot afford groceries. We cannot afford gas in our car," Burnett said. "Literally, [there have been] times where we ate Ramen noodles for weeks on end. This makes me sick to my stomach."
Hasan's trial is slated to start next month.