Former Army major general demoted, used government card for strip clubs, investigators say

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Former Army major general demoted, used government card for strip clubs, investigators say

A senior military aide who was fired during an investigation into allegations that he used his government credit card to pay four-figure bills at foreign strip clubs has been demoted and will retire as a one-star general, U.S. Army officials said last week.

Then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter fired his senior military assistant, Lt. Gen. Ron Lewis, in November 2015 after allegations of misconduct surfaced. In a statement released to the Army Times, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said Lewis misused his government and travel credit card to pay for personal expenses, lied to officials about the misuse and "engaged in conduct unbecoming of an officer on multiple occasions."

He was demoted to brigadier general, the Army Times reported.

In a 50-page report released in October 2016, Army officials said they found evidence that Lewis charged more than $1,000 on his government card at a club in Seoul, South Korea, from which military personnel had been forbidden because of its ties to underage drinking. The club, Candy Bar, is in an area known as "Hooker Hill," officials said.

When confronted with the expense reports, Lewis said he had no explanation for the charges, according to the report. After he returned from Seoul in April 2015, officials said he lied to military authorities and the bank and claimed that the charges were fraudulent and unauthorized.

He again used his government-issued expense card in October 2015 while visiting the Cica Cica Boom club in Rome. The club was described as "an establishment with signage advertising 'sexy show,' 'fans club' and 'lap dance,'" in the DODIG's report.

Lewis admitted that he drank "more than moderation" over a 3-hour span and said that after he danced with several local women he was unable to use his personal debit card to pay the $1,755 bill he had racked up. He went back to his hotel room with a Cica Cica Boom club employee to get his government card.

"I left (the club) with a big bill and they wanted to make sure I came back and paid it," Lewis said, according to investigators said. "It had to be put on my government card in order to have this bill cleared."

The report also detailed several inappropriate interactions Lewis had with women, including one late-night incident in his hotel room when he was drinking with a female enlisted service member who later told investigators he tried to kiss her.

Lewis denied the bulk of the allegations in a rebuttal through his attorney.

Lewis had shot up the promotional ladder, and his job with Carter stemmed from their close professional relationship. He had served as an aide to Carter when Carter was deputy defense secretary.

The IG report portrayed Lewis as a senior officer who often went out alone on overseas trips. It said his behavior concerned some staff members and at times was a topic of conversation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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