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A USS George Washington sailor will not be punished for cheating on an advancement exam because he did so at the urging of two chief petty officers, according to a report in the Navy Times.

The two chiefs — who are being permitted to retire after their convictions during a rare at-sea court-martial last month — urged the sailor to copy answers from another test-taker during a third-class petty officer exam on March 18. The sailor whose work was copied later informed superiors of what happened.

Lt. Cmdr. William Urban, a George Washington spokesman, told the Navy Times that the sailor who cheated may not have understood the situation.

“You’re talking about a very junior sailor, and his chiefs are telling him this is all right.” Urban said. “There were questions about how well he understood what was going on.”

Chief petty officers Reynaldo M. Bernardo and Ferdinand P. Quinto had been attempting to help a sailor who worked in their department. In the end, both the sailor who cheated and the sailor who provided the answers had their tests disqualified, Navy Times reported, but the second sailor was permitted to retake the test during the current exam cycle.

Bernardo was demoted to petty officer first class, put on restriction for 60 days and docked a half-month’s pay, Urban said.

Quinto was put on restriction for 30 days and docked a half-month’s pay. He also was sentenced to a demotion, but it was suspended “due to a prior record of stellar service,” Urban told Stars and Stripes earlier this month.

Because they were not undesirably separated or discharged, neither sailor will lose his military benefits. However, Bernardo’s pension will be less as petty officer first class than it would have been as a chief petty officer.

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