Airman guilty of AWOL, drug counts

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A Tinker Airman admitted Monday that he went AWOL earlier this year in an attempt to evade preferral on multiple drug charges.

Airman Gary D. Moore of the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron pleaded guilty to being absent without leave and unlawful use of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

The judge presiding over the general court-martial, Lt. Col. Joshua Kastenberg, imposed a reprimand, reduction in grade to E-1, confinement in jail for 11 months (with credit for 139 days of pre-trial confinement), forfeiture of all pay and allowances during incarceration, and a bad conduct discharge. The Airman could have received a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Airman Moore, who recently turned 24, was AWOL for about 20 hours over a two-day period, between April 2 and 3.

However, the former squadron commander, Lt. Col. Kelley Stevens, now deployed to the United Arab Emirates, and Master Sgt. James Kane, a section chief in the 552nd AMXS, both testified that Airman Moore knew that criminal charges were going to be preferred against him the morning of April 2, when he failed to appear for work as instructed.
Both also testified that Airman Moore was not located until the next day, at a duplex in Oklahoma City, after a massive search that involved several Tinker personnel and only after area police and sheriff's departments, jails, and hospitals had been contacted to determine whether they knew of his whereabouts.

In asserting that Airman Moore deserved at least an 18-month prison sentence and a dishonorable discharge, the chief prosecutor, Capt. Nathan Mayenschein, contended that the accused "went on a drug-fueled binge" and fled to avoid preferral of charges.
The defendant told the court that between July 2012 and April 2013 he "snorted" or smoked methamphetamine at least 50 times, ingested ecstasy pills "four or five times," and used heroin once and cocaine at least once.

The assistant trial counsel, Capt. John Fuentes, introduced into evidence eight letters of reprimand issued to the defendant between July 13, 2012, and Feb. 11, 2013, along with a letter of counseling issued to the Airman on April 3, 2012.

The Area Defense Counsel, Capt. Bradley Palmer, told Judge Kastenberg that his client was a good Airman until "he hit a wall" last July. That, Airman Moore admitted, is when he got drunk and sampled methamphetamine and his life began to spiral out of control.
Reminding the court that his client testified he asked repeatedly during pre-trial confinement to get treatment for his drug and alcohol problems, Captain Palmer told Judge Kastenberg that a punitive discharge would deny Airman Moore of the VA benefits he desperately needs to cure his addictions. "The Air Force owes it to society to rehabilitate Airman Moore as much as it can," the ADC asserted.

The defense attorney also noted that Airman Moore was brought up on drug charges while he was voluntarily seeking treatment for his alcohol addiction. The Airman said that at his request he was admitted to a hospital in south Oklahoma City for a three-day alcohol detoxification program; while there he was given a urinalysis and tested positive for methamphetamine, he testified.

When asked by his attorney to recount any of his achievements, the Airman said he once saved a co-worker's young daughter from drowning in a Tinker creek. And Captain Palmer pointed out that Airman Moore enlisted in the Air Force on May 13, 2008, at a time when the United States was at war.

Airman Moore told the court Tuesday that he has been drug-free "for a few months," said he was "embarrassed" about his actions, and said his car was stolen the day after he was arrested.