A tearful, repentant former senior enlisted airman learned Friday that he will spend 20 months in jail and be dishonorably discharged as an airman basic.
Chief Master Sgt. William Gurney, a former command chief for Air Force Materiel Command, heard the sentence from a six-officer jury at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Gurney had been convicted earlier in the week of 15 counts of improper relationships with ten women.
The trial had been moved from Gurney’s home station at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, due to his close working relationship with AFMC senior officials. AFMC is the parent command for a number of installations including Robins Air Force Base.
According to media reports of the five-day trial, the sentencing came after the “prosecution labeled Gurney a predator who exploited enlisted subordinates” and after the veteran airman had “cried and begged the jury for mercy.” The jury deliberated only four hours before reaching a decision. Gurney could have received up to 16 ½ years in prison.
According to an Air Force Times account, the senior sergeant addressed the court for 20 minutes apologizing for his actions and expressing sorrow to his wife and two daughters.
“I essentially lived a double life in which my actions were not those of a senior leader at a majcom of the Air Force,” Gurney is quoted. “I am not a bad person. I made some bad decisions. I got caught up in a cycle of sin.”
He apologized to the Air Force and to the women involved in the case, media reports indicated. He said he and his wife were meeting weekly with a chaplain to repair their marriage. He “vowed to work a lifetime to earn back the trust of his family.”
Although Gurney’s incarceration began Friday, his case must be reviewed by the convening authority. His sentencing also calls for an automatic appeal to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington, D.C.