Allegedly Crooked Navy Commander Once Star in American Dream Tale

Escaping the Killing Fields, Rising in the Navy Ranks

According to the Navy's various accounts and another profile written in 2010 by the Christian Science Monitor, Misiewicz was born in the late 1960s outside the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, with the Vietnam War raging next door. His aunt worked as a maid for a U.S. Army administrative assistant in Cambodia, Maryna Lee Misiewicz. As the Khmer Rouge's clashes with the Cambodian government grew over the next years, the family asked Maryna if she could adopt the small boy. Eventually, she agreed.

"After some soul-searching, I thought it might be a good thing for me to do," Maryna told the Monitor in 2010. "Whether they had any idea how bad Cambodia was going to get, they still had some sense that they should have one of their children seek a better life." Maryna Misiewicz declined to comment for this report.

Michael Misiewicz moved with Maryna, who was a single parent, back to the States in 1973 and for the most part grew up in Lanark, Ill., where he said he was probably the only non-Caucasian boy there. Following high school, the Navy says Misiewicz enlisted and attended the Naval Academy after being selected for the Navy's Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training (BOOST) program. He was commissioned as an officer in 1992.

What Misiewicz didn't know was that many members of his family had escaped what would be known as the Killing Fields in Cambodia and had immigrated to Texas in the 1980s. The Navy says the family set out searching for Misiewicz with the help of a local college student and managed to track him down for an emotional reunion in 1989. It was then that Misiewicz learned that his father had been killed by the Khmer Rouge in 1977, the Navy said.

Misiewicz rose steadily in the Navy ranks, eventually taking command of the USS Mustis in June 2010, a position responsible for 32 officers and 253 crew members, according to court documents. Less than a year later in January 2011, he was named Deputy Operations Officer for the U.S. Commander Seventh Fleet. A few months after that, he was assigned to U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Co.

"I went [to the U.S.] and I think the initial thought was for me to get a better education, live a better life and eventually return to Cambodia," he told the Navy in 2010. "When you think about all the things that could've gone wrong, I think I'm truly blessed to have so many opportunities and certainly the different miracles that have occurred just for me to reunite with my family."

If convicted on the conspiracy to commit bribery charge, Misiewicz could face up to five years in prison. Francis and an Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) special agent accused in a separate but related alleged bribery scheme had not been assigned attorneys as of late Thursday. They too face up to five years each if convicted.

Misiewicz's wife, as well as representatives for the Navy, declined to comment for this report.

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