Ex-Navy football player pleads guilty to theft

Discussion in 'Academy/Military News' started by Luigi59, Oct 16, 2009.

  1. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Ex-Navy football player pleads guilty to theft

    Said he stole to raise money for his mother

    By EARL KELLY, Staff Writer -Annapolis Capital

    Published 10/15/09

    A military judge yesterday sentenced a former Naval Academy football player to two years in prison for stealing teammates' charge cards and buying stereo headphones he said he sold to raise money for his mother.

    Under a plea agreement, Midshipman 3rd Class Christopher O. Rivers, a sophomore, will serve one year in prison and will receive a "punitive discharge," the judge said. He also will be on probation for one year after his release from confinement.

    In a departure from courts-martial involving midshipmen over the past few years, which have been held at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., this proceeding was held in the Uriah P. Levy Center at the Naval Academy. Academy officials said the trial was held in Annapolis as a matter of convenience for the witnesses.

    Three of Rivers' teammates testified for the prosecution, recounting how Rivers violated the bond among football players.

    "We are a very close group," said Midshipman 3rd Class Austin Hill, a long snapper on the team. "We call ourselves 'the brotherhood' - we treat each other like brothers, we go into battle together every Saturday."

    Rivers, who played slotback last year, has been under investigation since April and did not appear on this year's team roster.

    Now 20, Rivers admitted that on nine occasions between late February and mid-April of this year he stole teammates' Midshipman Store charge cards from their lockers in Ricketts Hall, an athletic facility on the academy's grounds.

    He then used the cards at least 11 times to buy 33 Bose TriPort headphones, worth $3,958. Prosecutors said Rivers sold the headphones, but did not say if his customers were other midshipmen.

    A Naval Academy spokesman described store cards as interest-free accounts that mids may use as charge cards on campus at the Midshipman Store, the bookstore and the uniform shop. The academy then automatically deducts the charges from a midshipman's pay.

    Rivers, as well as several of the mids who testified, told the court they didn't understand how the cards worked, or how much they were entitled to spend.

    Rivers said at one point that he didn't know at the time he was hurting the mids whose cards he used.

    "Some people say it is 'funny money' - use as much of it as you want," Midshipman 3rd Class Brian Blick testified.

    Rivers also pleaded guilty to stealing another football player's calculator, valued at about $190.

    Rivers told the court during sentencing that he stole things to sell after his mother called him, asking for money.

    "My mother called and said, 'I need help. Can you send something home for utilities?' … That night, I felt guilty that I'm here. That's when I came up with this (plan to steal). … It was the biggest mistake of my life," Rivers told the court.

    Rivers grew up in a gang-ridden area of Durham, N.C., he said, and had no father in the house. In high school, he played football and held two jobs at a time to help keep his family going.

    Rivers attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island before being admitted to the Naval Academy. He said Navy football recruiters told him he'd be making about $800 a month as a midshipman, but they didn't tell him that nearly all of it would go to pay for necessities.

    At the same time, he said, midshipmen are not allowed to hold down outside employment, which meant that Rivers' family was struggling to get by without his support.

    The football players who testified against Rivers largely supported his explanation of how little money midshipmen actually receive. The point is borne out by the Naval Academy's Web site, which states that the bulk of a mid's pay goes for "laundry, barber, cobbler, activities fees, yearbook and other service charges."

    "Actual cash pay is $75 to $100 per month your first year," the Web site tells freshmen, and the amount increases each year, with seniors drawing about $400.

    Rivers also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice by asking a teammate to tell investigators he was using the charge card with the teammate's permission.

    The military judge, Navy Capt. Bruce MacKenzie, at one point said to Rivers, "You came here to go to the United States Naval Academy, didn't you? You didn't come here to play football and get paid for it."

    MacKenzie is the same judge who presided in April over the trial of Julia Kaelberer, a Naval Academy senior who was sentenced to 15 months in prison for theft.

    Rivers called no witnesses to testify on his behalf, and had no family members or friends in the courtroom.
     
  2. usna2012mom

    usna2012mom Member

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    Sad story on so many levels.
     
  3. gunner1zeus

    gunner1zeus Member

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    The academies should more equally represent a cross section of the population.
    Whats next rapist and child molesters

    Affirmative action at work:thumbdown::thumbdown::thumbdown:
     
  4. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    I usually don't step into these discussions, but I will ask what in world makes you think Affirmative Action had to do with this?

    Other than the fact that he came from a "gang-ridden" area and that his family was poor, how do you jump to the AA tag?

    And then implicating that the goals of AA (more equally represent a cross section of the population) lead to child molesters and rapists getting admitted.

    Your fears about change seem disproportionate to the actual dangers presented.

    FYI - I grew up in a gang-ridden section of town. And in an odd twist of fate, I was a beneficiary of AA despite not directly qualifying for it (very long story).

    I think the unsaid story is why the kid didn't understand that if he was troubled by things at home, there are plenty of people around him who can help him deal with that stress (and perhaps help his family find help). The military has a lot of people who really want to help good people succeed. Unfortunately, this kid fell to the stress of his situation and made a poor choice and will suffer immensly for it (along with his family).

    Hopefully, when this is done, he will pick himself up, dust himself off and find another way to move forward with his life.
     
  5. MJOmom

    MJOmom Member

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    Well put Goaliedad ....
     
  6. An.Le

    An.Le Member

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    "Circumstances rule men, men do not rule circumstances." -Herodotus
    The quote by Herodotus rings true. :frown::frown::frown:
    This is a really sad story, what terrible circumstances. :frown::frown::frown:
    Will the student be kicked out of the academy?
     
  7. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    "A military judge yesterday sentenced a former Naval Academy football player to two years in prison for stealing teammates' charge cards and buying stereo headphones he said he sold to raise money for his mother.

    He will be dismissed (felony conviction, tagged for life) and imprisoned. So yes, he'll be "kicked out" of USNA.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  8. An.Le

    An.Le Member

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    What happens to him then? Where does he go from there? That's really unfortunate, his family is already poor.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I can't disagree with much of this...however I don't really believe affirmative action is in general keeping with the values cadets and midshipmen hold dear...that's doesn't mean I believe this incident was a product of afirmative action.

    He will pick himself back up with a felony.
     
  10. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    I hope you didn't think he would be supporting his family in 3 years with his wonderful ensign pay. O-1 pay isn't bad, but it's nothing to write home about either.
     
  11. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    He will go to prison.

    Probably not "Fort Leavenworth" but a naval brig someplace in the US. But I could be wrong, a 2-year stint could put him there.

    While I can sympathize for the family being poor...this guy is a felon, a criminal. He violated the trust placed in him, he lied to both his classmates and juniors/seniors. I don't have much sympathy for him: HE MADE THIS CHOICE.

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    USAFA '83
     
  12. An.Le

    An.Le Member

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    Oh no, of course not. That's not what I was implying. What i mean is that his family is already poor and now that he's booted from the academy they will have some major issues.
     
  13. An.Le

    An.Le Member

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    I understand what you mean. I sympathize for his family.
     
  14. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Great post Steve, I couldn't agree more.
     
  15. goaliedad

    goaliedad Parent

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    Yes, indeed he will have a felony on his record. And it won't be an easy task to pick himself up. Hopefully, he won't pity himself, as there are many who leave the military with honorable discharges minus limbs or worse not having done anything dishonorable to deserve their fate.

    I don't want to turn this into an AA discussion. I don't know why this student was admitted. It is easy to say AA or recruited athlete got him in from the story, but without having access to the admissions file, that is presumptive speculation.

    We do know he came from a poor family, which has different stresses than those who come into the academy from other backgrounds. However, one of the great things about the academies is that they do have students from every congressional district and strangely enough is more diverse (not just the racial component) than the enlisted forces whom they will lead who are more likely to have larger population clusters from certain regions and socio-economic circumstances.

    But no matter where an academy student comes from, s/he must live up to the standards of the institutions regardless of his/her beginnings. And when they don't, they are all subject to the same discipline regardless of their beginnings.
     

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