Watch CBSN Live

Sgt. Bales' money woes included $1M judgment

(CBS News) Staff Sergeant Robert Bales talked for the first time on Monday to the lawyer who will defend him in the massacre of civilians in Afghanistan.

Bales, now being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, said he has no memory of what happened the night 16 Afghans - including nine children - were shot dead in their homes.

Bales' wife expressed her sorrow in a statement Monday. Karilyn Bales called the killings "a terrible and heart breaking tragedy."

"What has been reported is completely out of character of the man I know and admire," she said.

Charges expected this week in Afghan killings
Lawyer: Bales wasn't drunk and can't remember
Sgt. Bales' wife: Shooting is "out of character"

Her statement ends with this: "The victims and their families are all in my prayers, as is my husband, who I love very much."

There have been a lot of troubles in Bales' life.

Movers pulled up to the house where Bales lived with his wife and two young children recently. The family has now been moved to nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, for safety reasons, according to the military. Neighbor Kassie Holland paints a picture very much at odds with the image of a man who allegedly shot, stabbed, and burned 16 Afghan civilians.

"He was always happy, a happy guy, full of life. I never would have expected it," Holland said.

Bales grew up in Norwood, Ohio, outside of Cincinnati, where he's remembered as a good football player and friend by Michael Blevins. They were in touch last month on Facebook.

"I've known him since the time I was two years old and nothing in his character shows that he's going to go out and massacre innocent people," Blevins said.

But there was another side to Bales. In 2002, he was accused of assaulting a girlfriend and was required to undergo anger management. In 2008, he was cited for a hit and run accident.

But his financial problems were much bigger than his legal issues. Before he enlisted in the Army, Bales worked as a financial adviser. He was accused of stealing money from clients.

Arbitrators found he'd engaged in fraud, unauthorized trading and unsuitable investments. He was ordered repay more than $1 million, but he never did.

Fellow soldiers describe him as gung-ho, a leader. Over 11 years he was deployed to war zones four times. He reportedly suffered a traumatic brain injury when his Humvee rolled over and a foot injury that required rehab back in the states. Bales was home from his third deployment in 2010, a happy time for the family, as neighbor Paul Wohlberg recalls.

"We did a couple of barbecues and we went to a pizza place down the road here. I went once or twice with his family. Just a regular guy," Wohlberg said.

Then he was passed over for a promotion to Sergeant 1st class. His wife wrote on her blog that he was left "sad and disappointed" by the news.

Bales had hoped to be sent to Europe or Hawaii, but he was deployed to Afghanistan instead, just as the family was facing more financial problems. Just this month they put their family home on the market for $50,000 less than they paid, shortly before the massacre took place.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.