Mario Manago, 33, has dedicated the last 12-years of his life to being an officer in the US Air Force. For that committed dedication, he’s been court-martialed, dismissed from the military, and is now a federally convicted felon as well. Manago’s predicament started after he complained to his superiors about the way a mission was being executed and the way he was treated.
Manago was terminated from the Air Force because he showed up SIX minutes late to a meeting he had requested with his commander. He wanted to discuss his concerns about the way he was being unfairly treated by his supervisors at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.
When the military judge handed down his decision, Manago said, “When he said I was guilty, it didn’t hit me until after I sat down and thought about it: I am a felon for being six minutes late to a meeting I requested, that was about wrongdoing. Something is wrong.”
Even without being court-martialed, Manago would’ve still been dismissed from the Air Force because his commander had demoted him and under Air Force rules, he was above the age to be a senior airman. He will receive an honorable discharged from the Air Force but now bears the stigma of being a convicted felon.
According to Manago’s attorney, Douglas Cody, “It was not about punctuality. It was about this commander sending a message to Mario and punishing him for complaining.” Manago had also sought to get protection under the federal whistleblower’s law but his complaint was dismissed by the base’s Inspector General.
The base’s spokesman, Shaun Eagan, said Manago’s claims of being treated vindictively were fully investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. He did however confirmed that Manago was convicted for being six minutes late to the meeting.
Manago was late to the meeting because he was unable to abandon his post elsewhere on the base. While being optimistic and saying he doesn’t believe race played a major role in him being court-martialed, Manago did note that there was a recent study done by Protect Our Defenders that showed Blacks in the Air Force were 71% more likely to face military charges.