Vilseck-based Army doctor sentenced in hashish case
November 15, 2003
WüRZBURG, Germany — A Vilseck-based doctor who used drugs while in Amsterdam, then bloodily botched an attempt to give a fake urine sample to Army authorities, will go to jail for a year, a military judge decided at a court-martial Thursday.
Capt. Dean T. Munnell, 33, pleaded guilty to charges of using, distributing and introducing onto a military installation the drug hashish. Four other counts were dropped, most as part of a plea bargain. Col. James L. Pohl, the military judge hearing the case, also ordered Munnell dismissed from the Army.
“There is something perverse,” said Capt. Dan Stigall, the co-prosecutor in the case, “in the image of a doctor — an officer in the U.S. Army — running drugs across borders and whiling away his hours smoking hashish.”
Munnell told the court he and his wife traveled to Amsterdam for a weekend in early November 2002. While they were there, they stopped into several of the city’s notorious coffee shops, where drugs are legally sold.
Twice, Munnell said, he smoked hashish in cafés and once consumed a hashish-laced brownie called a “space cake.” Before leaving Holland, he bought a 10-euro bag of the drug, which he smoked on his off-duty days in December.
Knowing he could be subject to a random drug test at any time, Munnell said he had stored a sample of “clean” urine in his office at the Vilseck Medical Clinic before he went to Amsterdam. When the surprise drug test came Jan. 2, he took the sample and tried to inject it into his bladder. Instead, he badly injured himself.
“It didn’t work as I intended,” Munnell told the court. “It caused uncontrollable penile bleeding.”
Pale, sweating and losing blood, he confessed what he had done to another doctor. He got treatment at a German hospital. His medical privileges were suspended after the clinic’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Polly Marcieski, learned what had happened, Munnell said.
A month later, Munnell told a noncommissioned officer under his command, about his situation. The sergeant asked if he could have any leftover portions of the drug, according to Munnell and a court document. Munnell — who had neither exhausted nor destroyed his supply — gave a small piece of hashish to the sergeant at the clinic the next day, according to a court document.
Marcieski testified that Munnell’s actions had hurt morale at the Vilseck clinic.
“The effect has been to rock the organization,” she said. “We are all kind of mystified why an officer would commit such a crime.”
Speaking haltingly and pausing to wipe his eyes, Munnell apologized to his country, his command and his family.
“I’ve brought dishonor upon the military,” he said. “I feel terrible for everybody involved.”
Munnell’s civilian attorney, David Court, argued for a light sentence, saying the combination of the felony conviction and suspension of Munnell’s medical license amounted to an enormous penalty by itself.
Stigall, though, said Munnell deserved extra punishment because he is a doctor and an officer.
“It becomes more than an ordinary crime, your honor,” Stigall said. “It becomes a betrayal.”