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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A Camp Lester corpsman was sentenced to 3½ years confinement after pleading guilty Thursday to taking part in a pharmaceutical drug conspiracy involving 11 other hospital corpsmen.

Seaman William A. Blado, with U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, also was reduced to E-1 and given a dishonorable discharge for 27 charges involving conspiracy, drug theft, use and distribution.

Nine others involved face courts-martial, but another two left active duty before the investigation into illegal activity began, according to court records.

Blado, who worked at the family practice clinic, acquired a doctor’s code and entered false prescriptions into the hospital’s database for Percocet, meperidine, diazepan, oxycodone and hydrocodine for the other corpsmen, according to the records. In all, about 3,500 pills were stolen from February to May. The drugs were used for personal consumption among the corpsmen, according to the records.

Blado said he recruited the others by talking to them “and kind of found out if they’d ever done drugs and stuff like that and then asked them if they wanted to” take part in fraudulent prescriptions.

Seaman James P. Novack, one of his co-conspirators, said at his own general court-martial Thursday morning that after Blado entered a prescription into the database, he would go to the pharmacy to get the prescription. Later in the day, he would split the pills with Blado.

Novack, who also pled guilty to conspiracy, larceny and wrongful use and distribution of controlled substances, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 28.

Blado and Novack also used their wives’ personal information to obtain some prescriptions the two corpsmen picked up from the pharmacy, according to court records and testimony.

Blado said he wanted the pills for his own use to support a growing addiction. He said he had a drug problem before joining the Navy in 2005.

“I was run down. I was losing weight. I never had any money,” he said. “I figured maybe the military could straighten me out.”

By the time the Naval Criminal Investigative Service spoke to his wife and searched their home in May, Blado had to be admitted to the hospital for a week for detoxification, according to court records.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Tyrone Wilson, one of Blado’s senior enlisted leaders, testified that from February to March, Blado’s duties at the clinic included taking patients’ vital signs, entering information into their medical records and performing minor procedures.

He said that the drugs Blado was taking would have affected his coordination, judgment and decision-making abilities.

But Wilson, a defense witness, described Blado as a “very dedicated, motivated young sailor … dependable,” and said he never saw any signs of drug use.

Before sentencing, prosecutor Maj. Robert Palmer told the military judge that Blado’s drug use put patients “in danger by his callous actions.”

Palmer asked that Blado be sentenced to 15 years confinement.

Blado’s attorney, Capt. Jennelle Janabajal, asked the military judge, Maj. Charles Hale, to give her client “the opportunity to get the kind of treatment he needs to go on and be a productive member of society.”

Hale handed down a sentence that included 7½ years confinement, with four years suspended under a pretrial agreement.

Blado faced a maximum confinement of 86 years.

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