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Soldier sues Utah Air Guard, attorney, claiming bad advice

Published October 17, 2012 2:16 pm

Military • Soldier says poor legal advice cost him a promotion.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A member of the Utah Air National Guard is suing the Guard and one of its attorneys, claiming bad advice cost him a promotion.

Mark Viau filed suit in 3rd District Court on Tuesday, alleging that Judge Advocate (JAG) Phillip Lowry mistakenly told him his Guard career would not suffer if he pled guilty to a felony in a criminal case.

Guard spokesman Hank McIntire declined comment Wednesday. "Because it's a pending lawsuit, it wouldn't be appropriate to comment," he said.

A federal grand jury in 2008 charged Viau with 17 counts of making false statements, witness tampering, bank fraud and mail fraud.

A former special agent with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, he allegedly lied on disclosure forms about real estate businesses he had on the side, violated terms of a mortgage, and claimed reimbursement for faulty bullet-proof vests he never bought.

Viau ended up pleading guilty to a single felony count of mail fraud in 2011, and was sentenced to 36 months of probation and required to pay back $3,650 for the bullet-proof vests.

ater in the year, he was denied promotion from captain to major in the Utah Air National Guard because of his felony, costing him pay, health insurance and retirement benefits, Viau says in his complaint.

He would not have pleaded guilty to a felony if he had been given accurate advice by Lowry, Viau claims.

Represented by attorney Elizabeth Knudson of Ogden, Viau is seeking damages of at least $255,000 from the Guard and Lowry. He remains in the Guard, Knudson said Wednesday.





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