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Charges dropped against alleged 7th Fleet purse snatcher

Aug. 1, 2013 - 06:00PM   |  
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Charges against a sailor in Japan who was accused of snatching an elderly woman’s purse have been dropped, but he’s not free just yet.

Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Brandon Villarreal was released into U.S. custody on July 25, said Lt. Cmdr. James Stockman, a spokesman for the aircraft carrier George Washington, where Villarreal is assigned.

“He remains on international legal hold pending payment of a Japanese court-ordered fine,” Stockman wrote in an email. “The case is not officially closed at this time.”

Stockman did not give the amount of the fine or say whether Villarreal would face any punishment from the Navy. He did not immediately return a request for more information.

Villarreal was arrested July 13 in Zushi, a Japanese beach town about 20 minutes from Naval Base Yokosuka. He was dribbling a basketball in a driveway when he allegedly snatched a 64-year-old woman’s purse and threw the basketball at her face, Stars and Stripes reported. When police arrived about 20 minutes later, he reportedly was still standing in the driveway and said he didn’t remember how he got there, Stripes reported. He had allegedly been drinking at the nearby beach.

The 22-year-old enlisted in the Navy in April 2011, according to Navy personnel records. The George Washington, where he reported in May 2012, is his first duty assignment.

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