NATIONAL NEWS

Navy officer who’d been jailed in Japan over deadly crash now released from US custody

Jan 12, 2024, 3:25 PM

FILE - Derek and Suzi Alkonis pose with a photo of their son Lt. Ridge Alkonis on Wednesday, June 1...

FILE - Derek and Suzi Alkonis pose with a photo of their son Lt. Ridge Alkonis on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, in Dana Point, Calif. Lt. Ridge Alkonis, a U.S. Navy officer jailed in Japan over a deadly car crash that killed two Japanese citizens, has been transferred to U.S. custody. Lt. Ridge Alkonis’ wife said Thursday he’s being returned to the United States. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Navy officer jailed in Japan over a car crash that killed two Japanese citizens was released from U.S. custody on Friday, one month after he was returned to the United States and placed in a federal prison, his family said.

Lt. Ridge Alkonis, of California, was ordered released by the U.S. Parole Commission, according to a family statement that described the extra detention in a Los Angeles detention facility as “unnecessary.” In total, he spent 537 days locked up either in Japan or the U.S.

“He is now back home with his family, where he belongs. We will have more to say in the time, but for now, we are focused on welcoming Ridge home and respectfully ask for privacy,” the statement said.

A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately return a phone message Friday evening.

Longtime friend of Lt. Alkonis is thankful to have him back in the States

Alkonis was released from Japanese custody last month while serving a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the negligent driving deaths of a woman and her son-in-law in May 2021. Alkonis’ family has said the crash was an accident that was caused when he lost consciousness while on a trip to Mount Fuji. Japanese prosecutors maintained that he fell asleep while drowsy and shirked a duty to pull over as he became fatigued.

He was transferred in December into the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons through a Justice Department program that permits the relocation of prisoners convicted in another country back to their home nation. The program stipulates that the sentence cannot be longer than the one imposed by the foreign government.

His family said no prison time was appropriate and protested the detention in Los Angeles.

The Parole Commission determines the release date in the cases of returning Americans.

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Navy officer who’d been jailed in Japan over deadly crash now released from US custody