Afghan Murder Suspect Joined Army During Fraud Probe

PHOTO: Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in conversation at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin, Calif., Aug. 23.
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As the defense for the Army soldier accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians appears to be taking shape, an Ohio couple told ABC News they remember him before his Army days as a conman who stole their life savings.

A defense attorney for staff sergeant Robert Bales, who is being held in the U.S., said that his client doesn't remember all of that fateful, deadly night in Afghanistan. Attorney John Henry Brown told ABC News today Bales remembers a little about the beginning of the night and some of the end, but not what occurred in between. Browne also said he doubts the military's version of events, said it's not supported by any eye-witnesses or forensic evidence and he's not seen any documents to suggest Bales confessed to the crime.

Bales is accused of going out in the middle of the night Sunday from his base in Kandahar and walking to nearby villages where he systematically entered homes, opened fire on the families and then burned some of the dead bodies. In the end, 16 civilians were killed including three women and nine children.

In addition to Bales' alleged actions in Afghanistan, Ohio man Gary Liebschner and his wife have come forward claiming that years ago Bales defrauded them of everything when he worked as a broker for a local investment firm and then disappeared right around the time he joined the Army.

"My income is less than what's going out, so we're trying to make ends meet," Gary Liebschner told ABC News.

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Liebschner took his case against Bales and his firm to Wall Street regulators in May 2000, and an independent arbitrator later found that Bales engaged in fraud, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments.

In the midst of the pending case, Bales joined the Army and Liebschner said Bales could not be found after an arbitrator ordered him and his associates to pay more than $1.4 million.

Asked if it was fair to call Bales a con man, Liebschner said, "I think you've hit the nail on the head."

Bales' wife has told friends the family was currently having financial problems and the house was rumored to be for sale.

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In a statement after the alleged Afghan shooting spree, his wife asked for "peace and time to make sense of something that makes no sense at all."

She also said that the pain inevitably inflicted in war should never be an excuse to inflict yet more pain.

Military charges against Bales are expected to come down Thursday, according to defense officials.

ABC News' Jim Hill contributed to this report.

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