WASHINGTON – A former U.S. Army contractor was arrested today in Newport News, Va., for allegedly killing one sailor and seriously injuring another in a vehicular collision in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia and Brigadier General Colleen McGuire, Provost General of the Army and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
Morgan Hanks, 25, of Newport News, was arrested on charges contained in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on July 13, 2010, and unsealed today in the Eastern District of Virginia. The indictment charges Hanks with one count of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Brian Patton, and one count of assault resulting in serious bodily injury for injuring David Morgan.
According to the indictment, in November 2009, Hanks was employed in Kuwait as a canine handler by Combat Support Associates and Combat Support Associates Ltd. (CSA). CSA provided site security and force protection at U.S. Army bases in Kuwait. The indictment alleges that on approximately Nov. 19, 2009, Hanks was operating a motor vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit on Alternate Supply Route Aspen in Kuwait. The indictment alleges that Hanks attempted to pass an eight-vehicle convoy on the two-lane road while traveling uphill and caused a collision with another vehicle in which Patton and Morgan were traveling. The collision killed Patton and left Morgan with a serious brain injury and multiple fractures.
Hanks is charged under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), a statute that gives U.S. courts jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed outside the United States by, among others, contractors or subcontractors of the Department of Defense. If convicted, Hanks faces up to 10 years in prison.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigative Division and is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorneys Micah D. Pharris and Steven C. Parker of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Hurt for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The Criminal Division announced the formation of HRSP on March 30, 2010. The new section represents a merger of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section (DSS) and the Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.