Camp Kinser worker pleads guilty in pot case
September 19, 2003
NAHA, Okinawa — A 25-year-old American base worker pleaded guilty Wednesday in Japanese court to dealing marijuana.
A Naha District Court prosecutor asked for an 18-month prison sentence for Robert Evans, a Marine Corps Community Services employee on Camp Kinser. He said Evans played a leading role in dealing marijuana grown in the closet of a Ginowan apartment rented by an American schoolteacher.
Last week, Japanese narcotics-control officers announced they had identified 11 Americans involved with selling and possessing marijuana grown by Matthew Chapple, 27, a former servicemember who taught part time in a Japanese elementary school in Naha.
Evans and Chapple were the only two charged with felony possession and distribution of a controlled drug.
During a 90-minute hearing, Evans admitted he was involved in dealing marijuana between March and his arrest in July.
“What I was doing was stupid and foolish,” Evans said. “I am resolved to accept the punishment, whatever it is, and refill my life with something I am proud of.”
Narcotic control officers confiscated 8.87 ounces of marijuana July 11 from Chapple’s home, including several plants being grown in a closet.
The drug operation was uncovered when two 18-year-old dependent family members of active-duty servicemembers were stopped at a Camp Foster gate on June 20 and military police discovered a bag of marijuana in their car. The subsequent investigation resulted in the apprehension of nine Americans living in Okinawa under the status of forces agreement and two non-SOFA Americans.
Police say Evans and Chapple made about $8,200 before their July arrests.
Prosecutor Tsuyoshi Satake said Evans sold marijuana more than 20 times during the four months, earning $1,700.
“He spread a large amount of marijuana in the local community and had he not been arrested, the amount would have been even larger,” he said, calling the crime a serious felony.
Satake also asked the court to impose a fine of 200,000 yen, or about $1,700.
Evans’ defense attorney, Masayuki Akamine, asked the court for leniency.
“He expresses deep remorse, and he pledged that he would never repeat the same mistake,” Akamine said. “He honestly admitted his wrongdoing and, because of his repentance, he willingly and fully cooperated in the investigation, which led to full disclosure of the entire picture of this case.”
In a hearing for Chapple held last week, the prosecution argued for a prison sentence of three years and six months and a fine of 600,000 yen, or about $5,000.
Chapple is set to be sentenced Wednesday; Evans, Oct. 1.