Midshipman sentenced for role in drug scandal Shortened prison term offered in exchange for cooperation in other cases

January 18, 1996|By Ellen Gamerman | Ellen Gamerman,SUN STAFF

A senior midshipman was sentenced yesterday to at least three months in prison and is to be dismissed from the Navy for his role in one of the Naval Academy's worst drug scandals since the 1960s.

The sentence for Midshipman Jason A. Harloff of Fairport, N.Y., is likely to be reduced from 3 1/2 years because he agreed to testify against other midshipmen implicated in drug use, Navy officials said.

"He has agreed to cooperate with whatever the government needs to further its investigations of drug use," said academy spokesman Noel Milan.

Harloff, 22, pleaded guilty this month to attempted possession, conspiracy, and use and transfer of LSD. He was the first of two dozen midshipmen implicated in using or selling marijuana and LSD to come to trial.

At least four midshipmen are to be tried this month on felony drug charges, Mr. Milan said.

Harloff is to enter a naval prison no later than April 1. He will lose his $590 monthly military allowance and will be barred from completing his last semester at the academy in Annapolis, officials said.

Harloff, an engineering major and lacrosse player, cried and apologized in a general court-martial hearing that lasted more than two hours at the Washington Navy Yard. But Lt. Col. Ronald Rodgers, the judge, recommended a prison sentence two years longer than even the prosecution had requested. Under military law, Harloff could have been sentenced to as many as 50 years in prison.

After the hearing, Christopher Drewniak, Harloff's lawyer, said the midshipman would try to put the incident behind him and complete his degree at another school.

"He was certainly very remorseful, very apologetic. That came across loud and clear to the court," Mr. Drewniak said. "He is just hoping to move on after this and start a new life."

Harloff and another midshipman were accused of drug distribution after Navy undercover agents arrested them in October at a Glen Burnie hotel. Five midshipmen have been accused of distributing LSD and marijuana, while another 19 are alleged to have possessed enough drugs for personal use and could face lesser sentences, Mr. Milan said.

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