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Naval Academy superintendent says drug investigation identifies possible dealer

New 4th class midshipmen mark the beginning of "Plebe Summer," with a swearing in ceremony on July 1, 2010 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. According to a report on March 29, 2018, the academy dismissed a white midshipman for using a racial slur for African-Americans in online communications with other midshipmen.

DAVID TUCKER/U.S. NAVY

By RACHAEL PACELLA | The Capital (Tribune News Service) | Published: April 24, 2018

The Naval Academy superintendent told Board of Visitors members Monday that investigators have identified a student suspected of dealing drugs to other midshipmen as part of an ongoing investigation.

Vice Adm. Ted Carter also upped the number of midshipmen to five who have left the academy since the start of an investigation last fall into the distribution of ketamine, LSD, mushrooms and cocaine on campus. In a statement Thursday, the academy said three midshipmen were dismissed for drug use.

The superintendent told the board, which was meeting in Annapolis as part of its role to oversee the academy, that the additional two left voluntarily before the investigation was complete.

“I believe by the time this is done this will involve somewhere between six and possibly eight midshipmen,” Carter said.

Carter said investigators have a suspected distributor but declined to answer questions about the investigation during a break in the meeting. He said more details would be released in coming weeks.

An academy spokesman later said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service suspects the person distributing the drugs is a midshipman.

There were three new faces at Monday’s meeting: Anthony Parker, George Gould and Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, all appointed by President Donald Trump this year. The members were sworn in Monday by Rep. Robert Wittman of Virginia, who was also re-elected chair of the board Monday.

Parker will serve the remainder of a three-year term ending December of 2019, while Jackson and Gould will serve until December 2020.

Among the new appointees is a Naval Academy parent — Jackson’s son is in his final year at the school.

Jackson has served as the White House physician for three presidents and was nominated by Trump last month to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I have a genuine interest in making sure the Academy is well provided for, to the extent that I can,” he said.

One of the challenges facing the Navy is recruitment and retention, Jackson said. “Especially with the economy being much better now, a lot of people are looking at a variety of options.”

Carter updated the board on the school’s admissions effort. Their best tool in recruitment is sending midshipmen back into the community to discuss the Academy, he said, including during holiday breaks.

“It’s not unusual for us to touch over 450 different high schools and upwards of 40,000 high school students, and interact and get contact information for the Naval Academy,” he said.

They received nominations from all but three of the 435 congressional districts this year, he said. Female recruitment is up, Carter said, citing a 4-percent increase over last year.

The rate at which students are accepting offers to attend the school is also high, Carter said. For the class of 2021, 88.1 percent of students who were offered a spot at the school accepted.

Monday’s meeting was held in the Nimitz Library, overlooking the construction site for Hopper Hall, a five-story 206,000-square-foot cyber building slated to open for classes by 2020.

“This thing is an engineering marvel,” Carter said.

So far 380, 70-foot pilings have been put in the ground. The Academy endured seven power outages to get the building connected to the grid, which is more than 50 years old, he said.

What will become a 43-foot by 38-foot by 16-foot deep pool could be seen at the center of the construction site. Carter said they will use the pool to research and develop remotely-piloted above and underwater equipment.

Major structural construction on the building should be complete by the end of the year, he said.

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©2018 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
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