A former Marine Corps recruiter was sentenced to 30 months in prison Tuesday for taking $10,000 in bribes and running cocaine as part of a widespread drug-running ring involving multiple military recruiters.
In addition to his prison term, the recruiter, James M. Clear, will also have to pay a $10,000 fee and a portion of his attorney fees.
Clear was arrested along with more than 60 others during an
FBI sting known as Operation Lively Green, which took place in Southern Arizona between 2002 and 2004. The sting opened in 2001 when the FBI began investigating complaints that a recruiter was taking bribes to adjust test scores, but it quickly evolved into an investigation into drug running.
Clear admitted to running cocaine from Nogales to Tucson in November 2002 and receiving $3,000 in compensation. The following February, Clear and another recruiter, Jared A. Wright, transported cocaine from Tucson to Phoenix, for which Clear received $7,000.
Much of the debate at Tuesday’s sentencing focused on whether Clear recruited Wright into the drug ring.
Clear previously admitted to recruiting Wright into the ring and being compensated for it, but his attorney, Thomas Higgins, said the admission was a mistake. Higgins said Clear had not actively recruited Wright into the ring, but only served as an example of the money that could be made by running the drugs.
“Would it be fair to say that he assisted?” U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson asked.
Higgins wouldn’t say, but federal prosecutor Michael Ferrara argued it was a moot point.
“He’s pled guilty to this under oath,” he said.
Ultimately, Jorgenson decided that even if Clear hadn’t actively recruited Wright, he did assist in and profit from the recruitment.
In a brief statement, Clear said he was sorry about his actions.
“I know I made a mistake,” he said.
That repentance, as well as Clear’s good behavior, played roles in his sentencing. However, Jorgenson said the stain his actions left on the military was also significant.
“People that are in positions of public trust” need to be held accountable, she said. “You dishonored military institutions even more so because you were out there recruiting young men and women.”
Arizona: Marines recruiter sentenced for bribes and selling drugs