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General Rejects Recommendation For Lenient Treatment Of U.S. Soldier

December 18, 1987

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) _ The commanding officer of the Army base here has rejected a recommendation from an investigating officer and has ordered a court-martial trial for a soldier who defected to the Soviet Union.

The trial could result in a three-year prison term and dishonorable discharge for Pvt. Wade E. Roberts, 22, of Riverside, Calif.

Roberts scaled a fence at his West German post in March and fled with his pregnant girlfriend to the Soviet Union, where he remained for eight months before returning to West Germany. He was arrested last month and returned to the United States.

Maj. Gen. Rocco Negris, the commanding officer, issued his ruling Thursday. A day earlier, investigating officer Maj. Joseph J. Switzer recommended that Roberts face a special court-martial trial, which has limited authority and provides for a maximum penalty of only six months’ imprisonment and a bad conduct discharge.

Roberts’ civilian lawyer, Ronald Kuby, said Negris’ ruling was a product of a ″rabid anti-Soviet feeling.″

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