Cannon cop pleads guilty in court martial

By Darrell Todd Maurina

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE — An airman assigned to the 27th Security Forces Squadron — the Air Force’s equivalent to a civilian police department — pleaded guilty Tuesday to illegal drug use.
In return, he will receive possible leniency based on his agreement to testify against other airmen, all but one of them members of the security forces.
At his court-martial, Senior Airman Adam Hoyle admitted to snorting cocaine twice through a rolled-up $1 bill while attending off-base parties at an airman’s home between September and November 2002; in one case, he said the cocaine was provided by a fellow airman. He also admitted to snorting methamphetamine in base housing in late November of that year; he said the meth was provided by an airman’s wife.
Hoyle said he noticed no effects from what he believed to be cocaine, but had a strong reaction to the methamphetamine.
“I was called into the kitchen and told by (the) wife to do a line of meth. At first I said no, then I decided to try it,” Hoyle said. “My nose burned severely, my eyes watered, and it tasted awful. I felt as if I had just drunk a gallon of coffee and I was wide awake.”
Hoyle and his military attorneys asked the judge, Lt. Col. Kurt Schuman, to consider what they called his outstanding record of military service while deployed in Saudi Arabia and his agreement to testify against his colleagues.
“He’s been a good troop other than his drug use,” said Capt. Michelle Crawford, who asked that Hoyle be sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, hard labor, and reduction to the lowest enlisted rank of airman basic, but no prison time.
“He doesn’t need lengthy confinement to think about what he’s done; he’s already been thinking about it for over a year,” Crawford said. “(Hard labor and a bad conduct discharge) benefits the unit and makes a very public and humiliating display of what he’s done.”
Hoyle said his drug use occurred while his marriage was breaking up and he was slipping into depression, leading to heavy drinking and also drug use.
“I came here today admitting to using drugs because the one thing I have left is my integrity and my honor. I felt like an idiot for the things I had done when I was in a tailspin of my life,” Hoyle said. “In light of the fact that I did use drugs, I respectfully ask for a bad conduct discharge, not to be confined for a period of time. I love serving my country and I wish I could do it all over again.”
“Do you understand that a bad conduct discharge may adversely affect your character, reputation, and your future employment opportunities?” Schuman asked, noting that Hoyle would also forfeit all his educational and other veterans’ benefits.
“Yes, sir,” Hoyle quietly replied.
Prosecutors asked for a stiffer sentence of 364 days confinement, a bad conduct charge, and reduction to airman basic, but not the maximum sentence of forfeiture of two-thirds of his base pay for 12 months.
“This is not a case of using a joint once or twice,” Capt. Robert Watkins, the military prosecutor, told the judge.
“He needs a long time to think about what he has done to the Air Force and his career,” Watkins said. “You need to send a message to a young generation of airmen that drug use will not be tolerated.”
After deliberation, Schuman sentenced Hoyle to eight months confinement, a bad conduct discharge, and reduction to airman basic.
Hoyle’s attorneys said they and their client were satisfied with the sentence and noted that Hoyle could be offered a lighter sentence if he follows through in cooperating with prosecutors.
One of the airmen named by Hoyle, Airman Basic Anthony Thompson, is scheduled for trial Thursday. Hoyle’s attorneys said they didn’t know when the remainder of the people named by Hoyle would come up for trial.