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Gay petty officer settles bank records suit

A gay petty officer who says the Navy trumped up charges against him has reached a settlement with a Washington-area bank that he says gave his financial records to military investigators.

Norbert B. MacLean III sued American Security Bank two weeks ago, claiming the disclosure violated a specific federal law that protects the privacy of financial records.

The records were used to charge MacLean with writing several bad checks on his personal accounts, and MacLean was sentenced in 1992 to be dishonorably discharged after he pleaded guilty to some of the charges.

But now, MacLean, 23, is appealing the court-martial and is suing several banks for revealing information about his accounts and other personal data without his consent.

Friday, MacLean and American Security settled up, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. Both sides agreed not to discuss details of the settlement.

Glenn K. Garnes, a Maryland attorney representing American Security, could not be reached for comment Saturday.

"I'm done with that particular bank. I still have my other suits. They're ongoing," MacLean said Saturday by telephone before flying from Washington to Tampa. "There's still a long road to drive down. We have a lot of issues that we're working on."

Still pending in Washington federal court is a lawsuit against Riggs National Bank, two companies owned by Citibank Corp. and Sears Roebuck and Co.

Also pending in Tampa federal court is a suit against CitiCorp Services and a Pensacola credit union that MacLean says he used when attending cryptology school in Pensacola from 1989 to 1990 before he was assigned to Washington.

MacLean, who lives in Tampa and Washington, said he looks forward to the day when he can elaborate on the charges against him.

"I've learned an awful lot from this experience. I intend to go to law school," said MacLean, who filed the civil suits against the banks without an attorney. "I would like to represent those who are charged with crimes in the military, and I think the U.S. Congress needs to revamp the military's justice code."

Paul Moriarty, the Naples lawyer appealing MacLean's court-martial, said the petty officer could receive an honorable discharge if the military conviction is overturned.

If not, MacLean would be kicked out of the Navy without honors.

"The defense," the lawyer said, "is going to be extremely diligent."