VICENZA, Italy — Pvt. Chaz Bullard’s Army career will end up being a short one.

The 20-year-old, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, pleaded guilty to a variety of charges Wednesday in a special court-martial and was sentenced to four months in prison and a bad-conduct discharge.

Bullard pleaded guilty to the use of cocaine, possession of cocaine, attempted distribution of cocaine, attempted home-breaking, making a false official statement and two counts of failure to obey an order.

Judge (Lt. Col.) Edward O’Brien could have sentenced Bullard to a maximum of a year in prison, forfeiture of two-thirds pay, a bad-conduct discharge and a fine. Capt. Eric Hanson, arguing for the prosecution, referred to earlier Article 15 punishments and suggested O’Brien needed to send a message to a soldier “who just doesn’t care.”

Capt. James Ewing, the defense attorney, argued that Bullard was sorry for his mistakes and had learned a lesson. He said Bullard was only 19 years old when the offenses occurred and the assignment in Vicenza is his first away from home.

Through the testimony of Bullard, an older brother and his mother, he painted a picture of a hard childhood in which Bullard worked full time while going to high school and was physically abused by his father. He said despite that, Bullard achieved good grades, was the quarterback for his football team and volunteered to join the Army. He argued that Bullard be allowed to stay in the Army, citing his potential, marksmanship skills and willingness to deploy downrange.

Bullard has been a Sky Soldier for only six months. He graduated from high school in May 2005, then attended basic training and later jump school.

He admitted lying to a noncommissioned officer in May in order to obtain a key to another soldier’s room so he could steal some cigarettes. He testified he bought a gram of cocaine in downtown Vicenza in July, before snorting a line in his barracks room on base. He then offered some to another soldier, who reported him to the chain of command. Bullard was then ordered to stay on Caserma Ederle and not drink alcohol, but he violated those orders a few weeks later.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.

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