Thomas A. Chestnut

A former Fort Hood soldier recently released from a military prison is now accused of threatening to kill people at Fort Hood, prosecutors said in a news release Wednesday.

Thomas A. Chestnut, 28, of Dripping Springs, was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday in Waco on one count of interstate communications with threat to injure, punishable by up to five years in federal prison, according to U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr.

Chestnut is accused of making the threats last month.

According to court records, Chestnut made verbal threats Feb. 22 when he called and spoke with a sergeant at Fort Hood’s 1st Cavalry Division, where Chestnut was a former soldier.

“Chestnut threatened to go to Fort Hood, kill the sergeant, take hostages, start a mass killing spree and then kill himself if he was not allowed to speak with someone of rank,” the release said. “Chestnut then spoke with a major and advised that he was a former soldier wrongly accused of a crime and eventually released from prison in 2016.”

Chestnut was released Dec. 23 from the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after an appellate court overturned his guilty verdict in a sexual assault case in December, said Lt. Col. Jennifer R. Johnson, an Army spokeswoman at the Pentagon, in January.

The Army Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction by citing evidence as “factually insufficient.”

The case stems from a sexual assault of a man in August 2012 at Fort Sam Houston near San Antonio.

Chestnut was originally found guilty by a military jury June 24, 2014, on one count of sexual assault and found not guilty of one specification of assault consummated by a battery.

Chestnut, who is openly gay, said during the trial that the encounter with the other soldier was consensual.

He was sentenced July 2, 2014, to three years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, a reduction in rank to private and forfeiture of all pay.

Chestnut was processed for administrative separation from the Army in the same manner as any service member who completes his or her contractual term of military service.

He “will have restored all rights, privileges, and property affected by the executed portion of his court-martial. This includes forfeited pay and allowances and other entitlements,” Johnson told the Daily Herald in a Jan. 10 email.

Back pay based on military basic pay charts for a private first class — Chestnut’s rank when he was convicted — could be at least $61,500, not including housing or food allowances.

In the Feb. 22 phone call to Fort Hood, Chestnut said if he was unable to speak with commander or a sergeant major regarding back pay, or did not receive the money he believed was owed to him, that he planned to shoot soldiers on Fort Hood, according to the release from the U.S. attorney's office.

“Threats of this nature are taken seriously,” Durbin said.

FBI agents arrested Chestnut on Feb. 24 and he has remained in federal custody.

A detention hearing for Chestnut is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 22 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske in Waco.

The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, military police at Fort Hood and the Hays County Sheriff’s Department.

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