Issue Date: September 13, 2004
Sailors testify medic offered illegal drugs
Navy investigating 13 spec ops troops who popped positive
By Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writer
SAN DIEGO — On liberty in Thailand, Hull Technician 2nd Class (SWCC) Seth C. Taylor did what many sailors do: Hit the go-go clubs in Pattaya’s bar district to drink and party.
But several sailors say Taylor did more than just drink last spring.
During an evidentiary hearing held Sept. 2 at Naval Station San Diego, Navy prosecution witnesses testified that Taylor used and gave them illegal drugs.
Taylor, a special warfare combatant-craft crewman with Special Boat Team 12 at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, Calif., faces charges that could end his enlistment and land him in jail.
Taylor is one of 13 Special Warfare Command sailors — including eight SEALs — under investigation after popping positive for illegal drug use in May. Seven of the 13, including five SEALs, were turned in by fellow sailors who say they spotted them using illegal drugs while on the Thailand deployment last May, officials confirmed. The others were busted in a follow-on, commandwide urinalysis test of more than 3,300 SpecWar sailors.
Last month, a similar hearing heard charges that Lt. Scott Hobbs, a SEAL Team 1 officer, used cocaine and Ecstasy and distributed Ketamine, a hallucinogenic sedative, in Thailand, then advised his platoon on ways to beat urinalysis testing.
Lt. Cmdr. Marc Guarin, the Article 32 hearing officer, will recommend whether or not the Navy should court-martial Taylor. Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, who heads the Coronado-based Naval Special Warfare Command, is the convening authority and will make the final decision.
Three sailors, who already received nonjudicial punishments for their role in the drug scandal, testified for the prosecution in exchange for suspended punishments. Those sailors still face discharge from the Navy.
‘What I did was wrong’
Hull Technician Fireman (SWCC) Elan Vallodares is one of them.
He testified that after a dinner at an Irish pub May 5, he went on a booze-soaked club-hopping spree with Taylor. Vallodares admitted drinking several beers, as well as drinks of vodka mixed with a popular energy drink. In a third-floor lounge at Electric Blue, a local club, Vallodares testified, he snorted a “powdery” substance he believes was Ketamine. Taylor had offered the powder, he said when questioned by lead prosecutor Lt. Brandon Hale.
“He took a piece of paper and put it on the counter,” Vallodares said, adding that Taylor opened the yellow-green paper, an inch square, and “gave me a straw.”
Vallodares said he took a snort. noting that the sensation was relaxing, like “a bunch of pain pills.”
Hobbs, the SEAL officer, then entered the room, he said. When Taylor asked Vallodares if he wanted more drugs, he said yes. Vallodares said Hobbs gave him a piece of folded paper “similar” to what Taylor had given him. He said he paid the officer $20 for the drugs.
Vallodares said he left the club assisted by Damage Controlman Fireman (SWCC) Brian G. Rex and, that morning, “I was thinking about what happened the night before.”
He testified he took the folded paper and flushed it down the toilet. “I did not want it, because I know that what I did was wrong,” he said.
Vallodares also said he didn’t test positive for drugs, but later admitted to wrongful use.
Defense raises some doubts
Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class (SWCC) James S. Morrison testified that on April 23, he and Taylor “decided to drink heavily” and also went to Electric Blue’s third-floor lounge. Morrison told Taylor that he felt ill.
“He put a pill on the desk in front of me,” Morrison said. “It was blue.” He said he downed the pill with vodka, adding “I don’t remember anything after the pill.”
Morrison said he again felt sick and dizzy on May 8 and Taylor gave him a tablet. “I think it was red and yellow,” Morrison said.
The next night was the mandatory drug test, he said, and “I popped positive for MDMA, which is Ecstasy.”
However, Taylor’s attorneys questioned what Morrison had taken, noting that Tylenol capsules are also red and yellow. Taylor was his detachment’s medic.
Rex testified that Taylor offered him what he believed was Ketamine three times in Thailand.
On one specific night, Rex admitted he was drunk, vomiting and “hugging the toilet” when Taylor asked if he was OK. Taylor “came back with a bottle of water and a white pill,” Rex said, noting that he took it and felt better.
Lt. Kevin Messer questioned whether Taylor had given Rex some real medicine.
“He never told you what that white pill was?” he asked Rex. Rex said no.
Rex said he didn’t take the pill, but later pleaded guilty to use because he’s not sure he didn’t take illegal drugs. “There was a lot of nights I was drunk in Thailand,” he explained. “I just wanted to cover my own.”
cut, paste, cut, paste, cut, paste, cut, paste, cut, paste, cut, paste, cut...
Are you going to give every news article from that site?
Granted, some of them are good, but geez...
You don't like, don't look.
I do like your posts, they are always informative.
They are always good reading.
I live in Pattaya Beach 6 months a year. I have friends that own the gog bars there. I know what it is like there.
There are drugs available. You would have to be an idiot to buy them there (well, anywhere really). But I suppose it happens.
I have seen 1000s of US military guys on RR there and almost to a man/woman they are polite and respectable. Oout of 1000s of people every year, some get crazy. Can't be helped.
And if you've ever been in Pattaya, you would know how easy it is to get crazy. It is a party town.
I feel for these guys. Ruined their carreer for a bit of "fun".
They are always good reading.
Always a good read. Keep it up and thanks.
My oldest frined in the world owns the Classroom on Pattayaland 2. Guy was a software guru and exec in Silicon Valley in the 90s. Now he has 100 hookers working for him.
Lucky bastard got a promotion.
For myself, no such luck. I only go there to play golf. I am off in 6 days for a short trip of 45 days. I think I need this trip.