The former senior military aide to then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter will retire as a brigadier general, the Army announced Thursday.
The move against Maj. Gen. Ronald Lewis was directed by former Army Secretary Eric Fanning, Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in a statement.
The Defense Department inspector general substantiated allegations that Lewis misused his government and travel charge card for personal expenses, made false official statements about that misuse, and engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer on multiple occasions, Smith said in the statement.
Lewis also has been reprimanded by Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dan Allyn, she said.
According to the IG investigation, which was released in October, Lewis used his government credit card at strip clubs or gentlemen's clubs in Rome and Seoul, South Korea, drank in excess and had "improper interactions" with women during business travel with Carter. The 50-page report shows Lewis spent more than $1,000 on champagne and drinks and includes conflicting statements that Lewis made to investigators explaining the outings, and on several occasions quotes his acknowledgement that he was drunk or drank to "more than moderation," the Associated Press reported.
Lewis, whom Carter fired nearly a year before the investigation was released, submitted a written rebuttal slamming the investigation, saying the IG assembled an inaccurate and inflammatory case based on innuendo and had failed to "find the truth."
He did take responsibility for several inappropriate actions, including charging nearly $1,800 on his government credit card at what he called a "dance club" in Rome. In an embarrassing set of circumstances, Lewis said, he tried to use his personal debit card at the club, but it didn't work, so he had to walk back to his hotel with a female employee of the club, and wake up a Defense Department staff member to get his government card to pay the bill. He said he paid back the charges when he returned to the U.S.
The report goes on to say Carter was unaware of Lewis' conduct until he was told about it.
Under federal law, officers retire at the highest grade in which they served satisfactorily, Smith said, adding that the Army secretary makes retirement grade determinations for all brigadier generals and major generals.
The demotion will cost Lewis about $20,000 a year in retirement pay, giving him roughly $80,000 after taxes in his initial year, according to the Army.
Lewis is a West Point graduate who was the Army's chief of public affairs before he was tapped to serve as Carter's senior military assistant. Lewis had reached the three-star rank of lieutenant general while working for Carter, but was demoted to major general after he was fired in November 2015.
A career Air Cavalry officer, Lewis spent a lot of time at the Pentagon between deployments. He served as an adviser on Carter's transition team, and he has filled the role of military adviser to Carter twice before — first when Carter was the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics in 2011, and then when Carter took over as the deputy secretary of defense.
Lewis deployed to Afghanistan in early 2012, serving as the deputy commanding general for support for the 101st Airborne Division. He also commanded the 101st Airborne's 159th Combat Aviation Brigade on a previous deployment to Afghanistan, and led units from the 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.