A Brigham Young University law graduate has pleaded guilty in a bizarre case of creating bogus credentials to become a Marine Corps lawyer - which is forcing the Marines to consider rehearings for some of his convicted ex-clients.
Capt. Jeffery C. Zander pleaded guilty this week at the Quantico, Va., Marine Base to two counts of giving false statements, 20 counts of conduct unbecoming an officer and two counts of wearing unauthorized decorations.He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 14 and faces a possible 31 years in jail, dismissal from the Marine Corps and forfeiture of pay and allowances.
His lawyer, Charles W. Gittins, said it is now a matter of record that although Zander graduated from law school at BYU in 1987, he never took or passed a bar exam as required by military law - and fabricated credentials that allowed him to work as a military lawyer.
Investigators said Zander learned about a lawyer in California who also had the last name of Zander, and then created a false court order purporting to change that person's name to his own. He presented that to the California State Bar Association, which gave him a membership card.
Investigators also said Zander created a bogus military discharge form saying he had served in the Navy in 1974 and 1975, and that Zander also claimed he served in the evacuation of Saigon, earning combat medals including the bronze star and the purple heart.
The Naval Intelligence Service uncovered Zander's false past while investigating him for charges that he falsified the official transcript of a criminal case by changing his client's answers to key questions.
The Marine Corps said Zander had defended 23 different clients as a military lawyer, and all but two were convicted. Most of his legal work occurred at Kanoe Bay, Hawaii.
2nd Lt. Michael J. Neumann, Marines spokesman at Quantico, said the Marines are re-evaluating those cases to see if rehearings or possible early releases of some convicts is warranted.
Gittins said Zander "certainly regrets the things he did prior to coming on duty in the Marine Corps that led to his court-martial," but that he "is not remorseful or embarrassed by his work while a Marine. He feels he did a fine job in defending his clients."
Until his sentencing, Zander has been assigned to the Marine Corps headquarters at the Pentagon performing non-legal duties. Gittins said Zander's family lives in Utah, and Zander has traveled there for a short leave.