Navy searching for Rota sailor who vanished before court-martial
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — The Navy is looking for a Rota-based sailor who disappeared before he was scheduled to face a court-martial hearing on drunken driving charges.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jay G. Melevo, assigned to the naval station’s Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Unit, was scheduled to appear at a special court-martial on Sept. 19. But he vanished sometime before the hearing.
Base spokesman Lt. Corey Barker said on Tuesday that the Navy is actively trying to find the sailor but has had no luck tracking him down.
On June 28, Melevo was over the legal limit when he got in his car in base housing, hit another vehicle and fled the scene, security patrolmen reported. An investigation determined that he stopped a couple of blocks away, where neighbors apprehended him, held him down and called base police, said Lt. Joseph Romero, the base’s deputy staff judge advocate.
Melevo is charged with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. Now, it is likely that he could face an additional charge of absence without leave or desertion. A sailor who leaves his unit without permission for 30 days can be declared a deserter.
Base officials are shocked that the sailor fled. The Navy rarely confines sailors facing a trial unless they are deemed a threat to the public or a flight risk. He was considered neither, Romero said.
A special court-martial is one of three types of courts-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Servicemembers who appear at a special court-martial face a maximum punishment of confinement for six months, forfeiture of two-thirds pay for six months, reduction to the lowest pay grade and a bad-conduct discharge.
Desertion is a serious offense in the military.
If the offense is committed in time of war, the code says a person found guilty of desertion “shall be punished … by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.”