Airman jailed for use of drugs in 'spiritual' quest
July 27, 2006
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — An airman who said he used “designer” drugs to find his “spiritual center” was sentenced to a bad-conduct discharge, reduction in rank to E-1 and six months’ confinement Tuesday on 11 drug-related charges.
At a special court-martial in the Kadena Law Center, Airman 1st Class Jesse E. Miller, 22, pleaded guilty to lying about his drug history when joining the Air Force in 2003 and possessing, using and distributing four kinds of phenethylamines and tryptamines — so-called “research” or “designer” drugs with effects similar to LSD and mescaline. He also pleaded guilty to possessing a pipe for smoking marijuana.
The Justice Department lists the drugs as illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. But Miller was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s Article 134 for committing acts that were “prejudicial to good order and discipline and brought discredit to the armed forces.”
Miller faced up to 12 months in jail, but a plea agreement limited his jail time to six months.
“I know I lied when I claimed to have only smoked marijuana two times and had taken no other drugs,” Miller, of the 18th Communications Squadron, told judge Col. Steven Hatfield at the beginning of the special court-martial.
He said he used marijuana more than 200 times and tried the club drug Ecstasy several times before enlisting in Nashville, Tenn., in May 2003.
The drug charges stem from an August trip to Tokyo, when he bought a powder commonly called 2C-E from a Roppongi district vendor for $45 and “tripped out” with two fellow airmen.
“It heightened my senses,” Miller said. He said the experience prompted him to do Internet research for other such drugs.
One of his friends, who received nonjudicial punishment for his drug use, remembered the experience differently: “I saw naked women with their heads cut off,” he testified. He also became sick.
From Aug. 19 to Oct. 14, 2005, Miller admitted, he bought more illicit drugs by mail from suppliers in Canada and Tokyo, having them sent to a friend’s off-base address. Miller said he shared the drugs and used them at home on Kadena Air Base and at the Sunabe Sea Wall.
Special Agent Brandon Farley from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations said agents raiding Miller’s home on Oct. 14 found his two young daughters alone upstairs as Miller, his wife and a friend tripped. Farley said agents found a baby bottle containing a liquefied portion of the drug.
“It’s lucky no one accidentally gave it to a child,” lead prosecutor Capt. Robert E. Vorhees said in his sentencing argument. “And who would take care of these children if something did happen while [the parents] were in altered states of reality?”
Vorhees called Miller a “liar, a drug abuser and a pusher” who had no place in the Air Force.
Miller said he knew he’d be discharged but asked he not be given a punitive discharge.
“After confinement,” he said, “I intend to finish college and be a drug and alcohol counselor.”
He blamed his drug use on an attempt to “fill a spiritual void.”
He said he “stumbled across 2C-E,” then used the drug to “try to better myself. I disregarded the fact it was unlawful.” Miller said. “Instead of searching for a spiritual experience, I should live for a spiritual life.”