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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — A Navy patrolman pleaded guilty at a special court-martial Thursday to flipping a security vehicle during an on-duty joy ride and then trying to cover it up.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Sweet said he was “showboating” when he drove the sports utility vehicle off road during a routine base patrol with another security officer March 26. He said he rolled the Nissan Terrano while doing “doughnuts” and “figure eights.” The vehicle was totaled in the accident. The insurance company estimated the damage at $7,728.

Sweet, who has 15 years of service in the Navy, pleaded guilty to five incident-related charges, including making a false statement, damaging government property and reckless driving.

Navy Judge (Capt.) Dave White sentenced Sweet to 60 days’ hard labor, a reduction in pay rate and forfeiture of $300 per month for six months. U.S. base commander Capt. John Orem will review the case and could reduce the punishment.

Sweet said he and Petty Officer 3rd Class Valeria Pezzano were patrolling the base’s northeast section when he flipped the vehicle.

To cover up the incident, he told a security dispatcher over the radio they were in pursuit of a speeding black sedan. He said he and Pezzano agreed to the phony story. But after security scoured the naval station for the phantom car and never found it, Sweet and Pezzano admitted they made it up.

Under the sentencing guidelines, Sweet will be reduced to a petty officer third class. However, if he gets in trouble in a 12-month period, he could be dropped to a seaman pay rate.

Pezzano has not been charged in the incident.


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