Marine Boot Camp Officer Fired in Connection with Recruit's Death

Col. Paul Cucinotta, the commanding officer of Recruit Training Regiment at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina was relieved June 6, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)
Col. Paul Cucinotta, the commanding officer of Recruit Training Regiment at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina was relieved June 6, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo)

The officer in charge of the regiment to which all East Coast Marine recruits are assigned was fired Monday in connection with an investigation into a recruit's death at boot camp earlier this year.

Col. Paul Cucinotta, the commanding officer of Recruit Training Regiment at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina was relieved by Marine Corps Training and Education Command Commanding General Maj. James Lukeman, officials said.

In a release, command officials said the move was due to "a loss of trust and confidence in [Cucinotta's] ability to serve in that position."

The relief, according to a news release, was based on information revealed to Lukeman during the course of a command investigation that indicated instances where policies and procedures were not followed.

An official with knowledge of the investigation told Military.com it was connected to the March 18 death of 20-year-old Raheel Siddiqui.

Siddiqui died after falling 40 feet in a barracks stairwell, according to information released by Naval Criminal Investigative Service. While NCIS officials have said foul play is not suspected in the incident, the tragedy prompted a congresswoman from Siddiqui's home state of Michigan to publicly call for more answers.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, wrote to Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller in April, demanding an accurate timeline for the events leading to Siddiqui's death and information as to whether hazing was involved.

To date, this information has not been publicly released.

A spokesman for the training and education command, Capt. Joshua Pena, told Military.com nothing further could be said about the investigation, as it was still ongoing. He said it's not clear when the investigation will be completed. At this point, he said, there are no indications that Cucinotta will face further administrative action.

Cucinotta, an artillery officer, previously served as Marine exchange officer to the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Georgia, and completed a tour in Bahrain as assistant chief of staff for operations for Marine Corps Central Command (Forward). He took command of Recruit Training Regiment in July 2015.

This is the second commanding officer firing at Parris Island this year.

On March 31, the commander of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Lt. Col. Joshua Kissoon was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command. The decision to relief Kissoon was made prior to Siddiqi's death, according to information provided by Parris Island officials, but the cause for his firing has yet to be made public.

--Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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Marine Corps Crime