US soldier sentenced to nearly 4 years in Russian penal colony for theft

A U.S. Army spokesperson said Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, was not authorized to travel to Russia when he was taken into custody.
Russia US Soldier
Posted at 11:41 AM, Jun 19, 2024

A Russian court has sentenced a United States soldier to nearly four years in a penal colony after he was convicted of theft.

Army Staff Sgt. Gordon Black, 34, was arrested in the eastern city of Vladivostok, Russia, early last month and was charged with theft after allegedly stealing about $100 from a woman he was visiting. Black reportedly said he needed the money to pay for food and a hotel, but paid her back the next day.

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Army spokeswoman Cynthia O. Smith informed Scripps News that Black was most recently stationed in South Korea and was scheduled to return home to Cavazos, Texas, while on permanent change-of-station leave. However, instead of returning to the U.S., Smith said Black traveled through China into Russia for "personal reasons."

Smith added that Black did not receive permission from the military to go to China or Russia and that travel to both countries is currently restricted under the Department of Defense Foreign Clearance Guide. Smith said the Army notified Black's family of his arrest shortly after Russian officials informed the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

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