AF cop gets jail for Percocet use, distribution
November 3, 2007
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An Air Force police officer who pleaded guilty to abusing his prescription painkillers and giving them to fellow airmen who also got high was sentenced to jail Thursday.
Airman 1st Class Jonathan W. La Rosee, 20, of Osan’s 51st Security Forces Squadron, drew a jail term of three months, forfeiture of $400 pay for three months, and reduction to the military’s lowest pay grade for his wrongdoing with the drug Percocet.
A jury of five Air Force officers — a colonel, three captains and a first lieutenant — passed sentence after La Rosee earlier in the day pleaded guilty to wrongful use and distribution of a controlled substance. Military judge Lt. Col. Gregory Friedland presided over the trial.
The jury spared La Rosee the year in jail and bad conduct discharge that the prosecution had requested.
“My parents taught me better than I have acted,” La Rosee told the jury before sentencing.
The offenses occurred on numerous occasions between last December and May 15.
La Rosee is one of nine security police officers from his squadron caught up in an investigation into alleged wrongdoing involving Percocet. He is the fifth to be court-martialed. Two others have received nonjudicial punishment and face administrative discharge, and the rest are awaiting further action.
La Rosee said he was prescribed Percocet after undergoing dental work at the base hospital and began taking it to get high.
“I became a drug addict,” he told the court Thursday.
He also gave it to fellow police officers in his unit.
La Rosee apologized to the Air Force “for bringing dishonor to the uniform.”
He’d also dishonored his family, he told the jury.
“I made a lot of decisions that I regret,” he said. “I gave my prescription drug to people who wanted them, but shouldn’t have had them.”
Prosecutor Capt. Owen Bishop asked the jury to sentence La Rosee to 12 months in prison, reduction to E-1, forfeiture of three-quarters pay for 12 months and a bad conduct discharge.
“This case is particularly egregious,” Bishop told the jury, calling La Rosee a “facilitator” and “enabler.”
“He chose to snort narcotics at least 10 times,” said Bishop. “He chose to give it to his buddies at least 17 times.”
Defense lawyer Capt. Justin Oliver said a bad conduct discharge would cut off La Rosee’s future “at the knees,” and that a 12-month jail term also would be excessive.
He portrayed La Rosee as a good airman, who performed his duties well, but who fell victim to addiction while using a powerful painkiller to relieve severe pain.
“We don’t send people’s mistakes to jail, and we don’t send people’s addictions to jail,” Oliver said. “We send people to jail.”
He asked for a lenient sentence to give La Rosee “a chance to live a productive life.”