Academy probes possible 'misuse' of ATM card

November 19, 1997|By Neal Thompson | Neal Thompson,SUN STAFF

The Naval Academy is investigating allegations that a midshipman stole an automated teller machine card and withdrew cash from another midshipman's account to gamble on professional and college football games, an academy official said yesterday.

Academy officials confirmed that an investigation was nearing completion and said the focus was on one midshipman.

"During the course of an ongoing investigation of misconduct by a midshipman -- the misuse of an ATM card -- we received indications that the midshipman may have been involved in some type of gambling," said academy spokesman Capt. Thomas Jurkowsky.

The midshipman, whom Jurkowsky would not identify, was a low-level manager for the football team who left that position early in the season.

"But there was no indication that athletes were involved," Jurkowsky said. "The investigation is not focusing on athletes. It is not focusing on gambling. It is not focusing on the athletic department. It is focusing on the misuse of an ATM card."

When the academy learned of the missing ATM card from another midshipman a few weeks ago, it asked the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to review the matter. The NCIS is 80 percent to 85 percent finished interviewing midshipmen, including football players, Jurkowsky said.

Once the probe is completed, academy officials will decide whether to press criminal charges -- which could lead to a court-martial -- or to handle the matter internally. "It appears we can handle this administratively through our own conduct system," Jurkowsky said.

The midshipman -- a junior, or "second class" in academy parlance -- is attending classes while the investigation continues. An academy official who asked not to be identified said the midshipman apparently was using the money withdrawn with the card to pay off gambling debts, place bets with a bookmaker or both.

The midshipman could be expelled if found guilty of violating the academy's "honor concept," which states that "midshipmen are persons of integrity [who] respect the property of others. They do not steal."

"Reef Points," the midshipman handbook, says that abiding by the honor concept is "the focus of all we do here as midshipmen."

Pub Date: 11/19/97

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