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Hanukkah Stabbing Suspect Was Kicked Out of Boot Camp

Marines won't say why Grafton Thomas left
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 31, 2019 4:29 PM CST

(Newser) – The man charged with stabbing five people during a Hanukkah celebration in New York began boot camp to enter the US Marine Corps but was separated from the service a month later for “fraudulent enlistment,” military officials said Tuesday. A Marine Corps spokeswoman would not provide details on why Grafton Thomas, 37, left the Marines as a recruit in late 2002, about a month after he started training. "Those specifics are administrative in nature and therefore information we are required to keep private,” Capt. Karoline Foote told the AP. Thomas' defense attorney, Michael Sussman, told reporters about Thomas' military service during a news conference Monday in which he described his background and yearslong struggle with mental illness. He provided a handwritten resume in which Thomas indicated he trained with the Marines in Parris Island, South Carolina.

Military law defines fraudulent enlistment as a “knowingly false representation or deliberate concealment as to” a recruit's qualifications. That could involve a recruit failing to disclose certain medical conditions, past drug use, or an arrest record, including cases that are sealed because the recruit was a juvenile or for other reasons. Sussman wrote in an email to the AP on Tuesday that Thomas “was recruited and suffered a wrist injury during basic training” with the Marines. “He was then released from that training,” Sussman said. “That is the best information we have at this time.” Thomas had multiple run-ins with law enforcement before he was taken into custody over the weekend, including an arrest for assaulting a police horse, according to an official briefed on the investigation who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Details related to that case appear to be under seal.

(Read more Hanukkah attack stories.)

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