An Army deserter’s nearly 10-year run from Fort Lewis ended this week when Kevin Shakely of Sacramento pleaded guilty to abandoning his military post and lying about his service in combat in a recent TV interview.
An Army judge at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Tuesday sentenced Shakely, 28, to a year in jail on charges of desertion, obstruction of justice and making false official statements. He’ll get credit for the 117 days he has spent in police custody while he awaited his trial.
Shakely was a prominent target on a desertion list kept by Lewis-McChord police because of his escape from custody at SeaTac Airport in August 2006.
At the time, Iowa police who had arrested Shakely at a traffic stop that summer were trying to hand him over to Army authorities seeking to bring him in to custody for his desertion from Fort Lewis in June 2004.
He somehow eluded them at the airport and made his way home to California, Lewis-McChord’s provost marshal told The News Tribune in January.
Shakely drew further attention to himself last August when he called Sacramento’s KTXL Fox 40 News to complain about more recent efforts by military police to persuade him to turn himself in to face desertion charges.
Shakely told Fox 40 he was an honorably discharged Iraq and Afghanistan veteran suffering harassment from the Army because of a paperwork mistake. He presented himself as a former staff sergeant, which means he would have received five promotions in uniform.
“This is not how you treat somebody that went through what I had to go through and made the sacrifices I had to make,” he told KTXL.
Shakely did not deploy to either war and he did not advance past the rank of private. Army records show he enlisted in January 2004, completed his initial training to become an armor crewman and arrived at then-Fort Lewis on June 2 of that year. He deserted six days later.
The judge who presided at Shakely's court-martial wanted to sentence him to a year and a half in jail. A pretrial agreement capped his punishment at one year in confinement, said Joe Kubistek, a Lewis-McChord spokesman who attended the hearing.