A one-time three-star general will be demoted and retire as a brigadier general, the Army confirmed Thursday after he used a government credit card to pay for bills at strip clubs in Rome and South Korea.
Cynthia Smith, a spokeswoman for the Army, said the Pentagon's inspector general was able to verify that Major Gen. Ronald Lewis — who was the senior military assistant to former Defense Secretary Ash Carter — charged the government for his visits to the strip clubs, made false statements and "engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman on multiple occasions." As a result, he will be bumped down to brigadier general.
Lewis had reached the three-star rank of lieutenant general, but he was demoted to major general when Carter fired him more than a year ago after an investigation uncovered that Lewis had misused a government credit card and had become involved in an extramarital relationship.
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Federal law states that military officers can retire only with the benefits of the rank they last served "satisfactorily" — a call the secretary of the Army makes for major generals and brigadier generals.
"In this case, the Secretary determined that Maj. Gen. Lewis' highest grade of satisfactory service was as a Brigadier General," Smith said in a statement.
Carter, who had been a friend and mentor to Reynolds, said in a statement at the conclusion of the investigation: "I expect the highest possible standards of conduct from the men and women in this department particularly from those serving in the most senior positions. There is no exception."
According to the report, Lewis used a government credit card to spend $1,121.25 at the Candy Bar strip club in South Korea and $1,755.98 at the Cica Cica Boom strip club in Rome — both of which are allegedly often visited by prostitutes. Lewis later said his government card had been stolen, which led Citibank to forgive the charges in South Korea.
The report also found that Lewis sought to engage in inappropriate relationships with female subordinates and said he often drank in excess in front of junior officers.
All of the cases arose while Lewis traveled with Carter as defense secretary.
Phil McCausland is an NBC News reporter focused on the rural-urban divide.
Courtney Kube is a correspondent covering national security and the military for the NBC News Investigative Unit.