ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman has pleaded guilty to using and distributing illegal drugs to fellow midshipmen at the academy, a school spokesman said Friday.
Zachary Williams has been sentenced to 13 months confinement and dismissal from the Navy, said Cmdr. David McKinney, the academy’s spokesman.
Williams, of Canal Fulton, Ohio, pleaded guilty at the Washington Navy Yard on Thursday to introduction of a controlled substance on a military installation and distribution of a controlled substance. He also pleaded guilty to failure to obey a general regulation, possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and use of a controlled substance.
The charges were based on an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that began in November 2017, after midshipmen brought the drug use to the attention of school officials. Some of the charges related to Williams’ arrest by the Dover Police Department in Delaware for selling and possessing controlled substances at a music festival in June.
As a result of the investigation, six midshipmen were kicked out of the academy for using illegal substances, and five were disciplined for other policy violations. The guilty plea from Williams concludes the case, McKinney said.
“The U.S. Navy and the Naval Academy both have a zero tolerance policy towards the wrongful use of controlled substances,” McKinney said.
The case prompted the academy to conduct a full review and make changes to urinalysis drug testing. Every midshipman will be tested randomly at least three times a year.
Prosecutors said Williams obtained 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. Some of the drugs named in the case included cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms and ketamine, which is an animal tranquilizer that can cause hallucinations.