Seven others also being investigated
By James W. Crawley
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
August 22, 2004
The Navy has charged a SEAL officer with using cocaine and Ecstasy and distributing ketamine while in Thailand – one of eight commandos being investigated for alleged drug use.
Lt. Scott C. Hobbs, who is based at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, is accused of using drugs last May while in Pattaya, Thailand, on a training exercise, according to Navy charges filed last month but just released.
Additionally, Hobbs is accused of trying to impede a criminal investigation, of conduct unbecoming an officer and of violating a military order.
The Navy tested 3,300 special-operations and support sailors worldwide in May.
The tests were ordered after seven sailors – five SEALs and two special warfare combatant crewmen – tested positive for drugs while in Thailand. Six more sailors, including three SEALs, tested positive in other locations.
Hobbs and others were in Thailand to participate in Cobra Gold, an annual multinational military exercise.
The Navy has refused to provide further information about the sailors until court proceedings begin. It released information about the charges against Hobbs after The San Diego Union-Tribune filed Freedom of Information Act requests.
Navy attorneys initially rejected the requests, saying the information would not be released until after an Article 32 hearing to determine whether a court-martial would be convened.
Article 32 hearings and courts-martial are generally open to the public and media.
In a letter last week, a Navy lawyer released redacted charge sheets specifying the counts against Hobbs and stating that a hearing had been held.
No decision has been made on whether the officer will be court-martialed or his case handled administratively.
Naval Special Warfare Command spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Bender said Hobbs' Article 32 hearing took place Aug. 12 and 13. Previously, the Union-Tribune had filed a letter with the command's judge advocate general seeking prior notification of any hearings. The request was denied.
The drug-related counts state Hobbs used cocaine and Ecstasy, a designer drug, in mid-May and distributed ketamine, which can cause hallucinations, in early May.
In other charges, Navy officials say Hobbs tried to impede the drug investigation by advising platoon members on how to cheat on urinalysis tests.
The charge of conduct unbecoming an officer alleges Hobbs made statements to platoon members and others about the pending drug tests and told them someone had alerted authorities about suspected drug use in the unit.
He is also accused of violating an order by using a Navy credit card without authorization to get cash from an automated teller machine.
If convicted of all charges, Hobbs could face dismissal from the service, pay forfeiture and up to five years in the brig.