A U.S. military veteran of the Iraq surge and Guantánamo averted a federal passport fraud trial on Tuesday by settling for probation in a deal that lets him stay in the United States for now and perhaps continue Navy service.
Under the deal, Navy Reserves Petty Officer Elisha Leo Dawkins, 26, ducked a felony conviction and will have the opportunity to settle his citizenship question separately with U.S. immigration authorities.
The U.S. government says he was born in the Bahamas. His lawyer said he grew up in Miami believing he was an American citizen, and went on to serve honorably in both the U.S. Army and Navy.
As a Navy Reserves photographer, he spent seven months chronicling the lives of captives at Guantánamo. He came home in April, to arrest and 10 weeks detention in four federal lockups.
Still, he declared himself undeterred by the experience and eager to return to active duty.
“If America goes to World War III, I’ll be in the front line. This is a great country,” Dawkins said outside the court. He had traded a detainee’s tan prison uniform for a blue suit and tie.
Dawkins trial was slated to begin with jury selection on a single count of making a false statement on a 2006 U.S. passport application. He did not report that he had applied for one in 2005, and was turned down.
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