The former top enlisted leader for a Patriot air defense artillery battalion based at Fort Hood, Texas, has lost rank and is headed to jail after pleading guilty to criminal charges that stemmed from an affair with a subordinate soldier last year.
Sgt. Maj. Tomas Barrios was the command sergeant major for 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Regiment, at the time of the affair. He took a plea deal that will likely allow him to retire. He was sentenced June 28 to 60 days’ confinement and a reduction in rank to master sergeant.
Barrios’ listed military attorney did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
According to III Corps officials, Barrios pleaded guilty to one specification of fraternization, two false official statements, and one specification of adultery.
His charge sheet, which Army Times received from command officials in April, revealed that the affair was with a junior enlisted soldier from his unit.
According to the document, Barrios began “making deliberate and repeated comments and gestures of a sexual nature” towards an unnamed corporal in May 2021 before beginning a sexual relationship with the soldier in July.
The affair involved sexting, nude photographs and sexual encounters at Barrios’ Killeen home, the charge sheet said.
After his superiors began investigating the affair, Barrios made two false sworn statements, according to the charge sheet.
The sergeant major lied on Sept. 22 when he claimed he hadn’t had an affair with a soldier or had one visit his home, the document said. He made a second false statement on Sept. 25 when he denied several details of his relationship with the corporal.
Barrios is not the only leader from his former battalion to be convicted at court-martial in recent months, either.
Three leaders from the unit’s Bravo Battery — its commander, its first sergeant, and a sergeant first class — conspired to steal weapons sights from their battery arms room and then tried to cover their tracks when investigated, prosecutors say.
Capt. Robin Morales and Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Pierce both pleaded guilty in May to their role in the December 2019 theft ring. Both were kicked out of the Army and sentenced to jail time.
Former 1st Sgt. Rusty Groat, who has pleaded not guilty, will face a general court-martial on Aug. 8.
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master’s thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood’s WWII movies.
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