A chief petty officer is headed to court-martial next month for allegedly stealing a bottle of Versace body lotion from the Navy Exchange at Naval Air Station Jackonsville.
But Chief Boatswain’s Mate Kathy M. Tonnah’s Navy attorney — Lt. Cmdr. Tracy High — insists her client didn’t steal anything.
Tonnah was perusing $84 dollar gift sets that contained perfume, lotion and shower gel on June 2, High said. She didn’t want the shower gel, so she took the gel out of one gift set and swapped it with the lotion from another set.
Tonnah paid for the modified gift set containing two lotions and was then “confronted outside and treated like a thief,” High said.
The chief was “forced to pay an additional $200 in ‘administrative costs’” after she was stopped, the attorney said.
“That’s the real larceny here,” High said.
High told Navy Times that Tonnah’s command tried to send her to captain’s mast for shoplifting but her client “stood on principle and refused to accept nonjudicial punishment for a crime she did not commit, demanding the case go before a jury of her peers.”
Officials referred her larceny case to a special court-martial trial before a military judge, however, “a forum she cannot object to under the new rules of the the Military Justice Act of 2016,” High said.
Tonnah is assigned to the Southeast Regional Maintenance Center.
Command spokesman Todd Nennich declined to comment on the chief’s case, which is slated to go to trial on Jan. 27.
“We welcome her day in court for the opportunity to exonerate her,” High said.
A North Carolina native, Tonnah enlisted in 2002 and reported to the maintenance center 14 years later, according to her service record.
She pinned on anchors in 2017.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at email@example.com.