Nathaniel Penalosa, a junior cadet at the Air Force Academy was sentenced for 3 years in military prison for the charge of dealing drugs as a part of the plea deal. The cadet admitted that he sold MDMA, LSD, Modafinil, that he ordered from dark net marketplaces to his classmates.
“I purchased it on the Internet, had it mailed to me,” Penalosa stated.
Penalosa who previously earned the Air Force Achievement Medal was on the military honors list at the academy before the drugs, an electronic scale and small bags (that are mostly used for selling illegal substances) were found during a random room inspection.
Penalosa pleaded guilty on November 3 to nine drug counts of him using, distributing and bringing the illegal substances to the Air Force Academy. He also pleaded guilty for the manufacture of drugs. According to him, the man converted powdered MDMA into pills by filling empty drug capsules.
At the time, he was facing a maximum of 69 years for the crimes he committed, however, after the plea deal, the law enforcement authorities agreed on ”only” three years in military prison. Although the deal was made, the academy wanted to sentence Penalosa for 42 months, however, the military allowed academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson to limit the sentence to 36 months in order to comply with the plea deal. According to prosecutor Captain Johua Tolin, the drug-dealing cadet deserved his sentence of 3 years, reasoning with the statement that Penalosa has corrupted his fellow schoolmates.
Since Penalosa was single raised by his mother, he asked for leniency in court to support the woman:
“Please consider a sentence that would allow me to start helping my mother as soon as possible”.
One part of the plea deal was that Penalosa agreed on testifying on a fellow cadet in an unspecified case. According to prosecutors, Penalosa has already made statements regarding the previous matter.
In court, Penalosa claimed that he was just briefly in the drug business, for proof, he said that he had fewer than 20 deals his dark net market profile. The most popular drug he purchased and sold was Modafinil since the cadets could use the substance for studying more efficiently. The biggest client of Penalosa could be his former roommate, Luca Simmons, who was dismissed from the school this September. Simmons testified that he bought Modafinil from his roommate in order to get past rough times during his academy years. Three other cadets were kicked out of the academy who are also tied to the same case.
Frank Spinner, Penalosa’s civilian lawyer, stated that the former cadet regrets dealing drugs at the school:
“His only thought is what have I done to my mother.”