Naval Academy midshipmen court-martialed over drug case
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Naval Academy’s superintendent is moving ahead with a court-martial against a midshipman accused of distributing illegal drugs.
Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the academy’s superintendent, told the academy’s Board of Visitors Tuesday that an arraignment for Midshipman Zachary Williams is scheduled for Sept. 10 at the Washington Navy Yard.
“The U.S. Naval Academy referred Midshipman Williams’ case to a general court martial following an Article 32 preliminary hearing into the matter,” said Cmdr. David McKinney, an academy spokesman, referring to a hearing that determines whether the accused will go to trial in a court-martial. “The referred charges allege Midshipman Williams engaged in the wrongful possession, distribution, introduction, and use of controlled substances.”
A trial has been set for March. Prosecutors have said Williams sold and used drugs while going to concerts with other midshipmen, and they have contended his actions were particularly offensive because he introduced drugs to the academy. Some of the drugs named in the case have included cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms and ketamine, which is an animal tranquilizer that can cause hallucinations.
Antoinette O’Neill, Williams’ civilian attorney who is retired from the Air Force and is a lawyer with Patriots Law Group, declined to comment Monday.
Williams is accused of acquiring the drugs on the dark web, where people search for drugs through secret web browsers and buy them using encrypted channels, code names and virtual currencies.
The charges are based on an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that began in November. As a result of the investigation, six midshipmen were kicked out of the academy for using illegal substances, and five were disciplined for drug-related violations.
Williams remains an active midshipman, though he has been on a leave of absence.