Usually, a Dishonorable Discharge (or Dismissal for officers) is reserved for the most severe of crimes–murder, rape, robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, and the like.
Now, I’m just brainstorming out loud, but… The judge could, in lieu of a reprimand, forfeiture of pay, and/or confinement, simply award a dismissal.
In order to impose this, he’d need to decide as follows:
1. Sinclair’s crimes warrant the attachment of significant stigma. After all, the primary purpose of a punitive discharge/dismissal is to stigmatize a person.
2. Sinclair’s behavior makes him unworthy of further benefits (VA, retirement, or otherwise). His crimes outweigh the good aspects of his prior service.
3. General deterrence is the most important sentencing factor.
4. He is incapable/unworthy of rehabilitation.
I do think this is a longshot, but, if the government pushes the case for how this case can/should be a wakeup call for all senior leaders, it certainly is plausible.
I had a prior case where a court-martial panel (jury) determined that, while jail would not do anything for the Army or my client, his actions deserved nothing more than what a Bad-Conduct Discharge would allow. So, it wouldn’t be completely absurd to see a sentence of only a dismissal.