U.S. soldier admits guilt in theft case, Russia says

An American soldier who was accused of stealing from his girlfriend during an unauthorized trip to Russia, has pleaded guilty to theft, Russian media reported Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Gordon Black was arrested in the eastern city of Vladivostok earlier this month and placed in pre-trial detention.

Now he has “admitted guilt and is cooperating with the investigation,” state news agency Tass reported Wednesday, citing local law enforcement agencies.

Separately, the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Primorsky Territory told the privately-owned Interfax news agency that Black, 34, had confessed to his crime.

Black was charged with “theft causing significant damage.” Tass reported that he was talking to the authorities in English via an interpreter.

Russia's criminal code says the crime is punishable by a fine of 200,000 Roubles ($2,200), compulsory labor of up to 240 hours, or by a jail term of up to 5 years.

Black was stationed in South Korea and was due to travel to a U.S. Army base in Texas when he made an unscheduled visit to Russia to visit a women he was romantically involved with, U.S. officials said shortly after his arrest.

Black’s mother, Melody Jones, told NBC News last week that her son had been “lured” to Russia by the woman, whom she named as Aleksandra Vashchuk. “I think she convinced him to come there,” Jones said in a video interview from her home in Cheyenne, Wyoming. “He wanted to see her for the last time before going home, and so he went there.”

Black's wife, Megan Black also called on Russian authorities to release him through a statement from her attorney. Even though she is in the process of divorcing him, Brett Pritchard, said that securing Black's freedom would provide comfort to Black's six-year-old daughter.

Black met the 32-year-old Russian woman while she was working in South Korea as revealed in a series of TikTok videos that surfaced after his arrest. Found by Radio Free Europe, the woman said in the videos that she lived in South Korea for five years.

Army spokesperson Cynthia O. Smith said earlier this month that Black, who enlisted as an infantryman in 2008 and has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, did not have clearance to visit Russia.

Singh also said the Army was “looking into” whether Russian intelligence had targeted Black.

u.s. soldier admits guilt in theft case, russia says
Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is a London-based editor and reporter for NBC News Digital.

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