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Chris Nagel Interviewed About What’s Next After Bergdahl’s Guilty Plea

October 19, 2017

Christian Nagel, who leads McGuireWoods’ government contracts litigation team, drew upon his experience as a former Marine Corps prosecutor to comment in a radio interview about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s Oct. 16 guilty plea to desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

Bergdahl could receive a life sentence for misbehavior before the enemy and up to five years for desertion. He told the judge he left his post to reach his base to report “a critical problem in my chain of command” but was captured shortly afterward and held for five years by the Taliban.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 23, but Nagel said that decision might be delayed. Once the sentencing phase begins, he said, prosecutors can introduce testimony from troops who were injured searching for Bergdahl.

Conversely, Nagel added during his live Oct. 16 interview on the Sirius satellite network’s Patriot Channel, Bergdahl’s defense “will have a lot more wiggle room in what they introduce” in arguing for a lighter sentence.

“So I think both sides probably will take a lot of time with this. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them postpone it a little bit, but once it gets going I think we’ll probably have a week, two, maybe even three weeks of testimony back and forth,” he said.

Nagel, senior counsel in the firm’s Tysons office, served for 12 years in the Marine Corps on active duty and as a reservist, including a 2009 deployment in Afghanistan. He also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and as officer-in-charge of the Quantico Legal Assistance Office.