Midshipman pleads guilty to four drug charges Prison, expulsion from Naval Academy part of plea bargain

March 07, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Three puffs of marijuana, a drop of hallucinogenic drugs and a contribution to buy LSD ended Drew S. Fullerton's naval career yesterday as he became the fourth midshipman this year sentenced to prison on drug charges.

In a staid court-martial at the Naval Academy, Fullerton, 22, pleaded guilty to four felony drug charges stemming from the arrest in October of two midshipmen caught buying LSD in a Glen Burnie hotel room.

Each count carries a five-year maximum prison sentence. But a sealed plea bargain arranged before the three-hour hearing called for Fullerton's discharge from the Navy, expulsion from the academy, restitution of more than $80,000 in tuition and a 60-day prison sentence.

"I have been incredibly immature and stupid to risk my career and integrity on what I have done," Fullerton told the court. "But I have learned. I have learned too late."

The military judge, Marine Lt. Col. Ronald Rodgers, had recommended a 22-month prison sentence for the midshipman, who would have graduated in May with a degree in systems engineering.

But Navy officials reduced the punishment in return for Fullerton's cooperation in the academy's continuing drug investigation.

Midshipman Joseph G. Casey, one of two midshipmen arrested during the attempted drug buy, is expected to appear before a court-martial later this month. In addition, 18 other midshipmen identified in the drug investigation are undergoing administrative hearings, which should be concluded by the end of April.

Fullerton was one of several midshipmen who contributed a total of $240 to buy LSD in October, although he was not present at the initial arrest. He said he was to have received 30 doses of the drug.

Fullerton admitted conspiring to buy LSD, as well as possessing and using the hallucinogenic drug. Last spring, Fullerton said, he squeezed one drop of the drug onto his tongue after drinking with friends in an Annapolis bar.

The Indianapolis resident also admitted using marijuana during an afternoon car ride in the spring with two other midshipmen. He said three puffs upset his stomach.

His civilian attorney, J. Gregory Garrison, argued for no jail time.

Without calling character witnesses, Mr. Garrison cited his client's cooperation with the Navy's drug investigation, his academy record as a good student and his membership in the Catholic Midshipmen Club. Last summer, he told the judge, Fullerton received excellent reports after a tour on the nuclear-powered submarine USS Narwhal.

"Example-making is not what we have to do today," said Mr. Garrison, who is the CBS legal affairs analyst. But Fullerton joined three other midshipmen in receiving prison time. Midshipmen Frederick E. Wilmot of Las Vegas, Erin P. Ogle of Prescott, Ariz., and Jason A. Harloff of Fairport, N.Y., were sentenced to two-month, three-month and four-month prison terms, respectively, earlier this year.

"The Navy and the Naval Academy take drug abuse very seriously," said Lt. Commander Daniel G. Donovan, who prosecuted the case. "We do not apologize for that."

Pub Date: 3/07/96

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