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Cocaine and pain pills: Inside secret drug culture at West Point

March 21, 2022

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Former West Point cadet Chris Monge was thrown out of school and into military prison for dealing and using cocaine, Xanax and opiates at the country’s foremost military academy in 2017.

Army prosecutors called him a drug “kingpin” at the US Military Academy in Orange County, NY.

Monge, now, 27, was so hooked on opiates that even when he returned to the campus in disgrace to meet with his lawyer and prep for his court martial, he was using.

Over the three-day process, he drove more than two-and-a-half hours — twice — back to his Allentown, Penn., hometown to get through it.

“I was high the day of the hearing,” Monge told The Post. “I pled guilty to all charges and got sentenced to thirty months at Fort Leavenworth. I did fifteen months and was paroled for ten months.”

He hopes West Point may be more forgiving of the cadets who ingested fentanyl-tainted cocaine during a spring break getaway in Wilton Manors, Fla., on March 11.

The five New York cadets — all men in their early 20s and at least one a football player — had been partying at an Airbnb rental north of Fort Lauderdale, neighbors said. All but one have been released from the hospital.

A former Air Force cadet who attended the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., said he wasn’t surprised to hear at least one football player was among the overdose victims.

“Cocaine was really prevalent among the football team,” he told The Post. “They would wait until a long weekend to do it because it leaves your system quickly. Weed can stay for a long time. We were randomly tested at the academy.”

Drug experts say cocaine or its metabolites typically can show up on a blood or saliva test for up to 2 days, a urine test for up to 3 days and a hair test for months or even years.

Police have not yet identified the cadets and West Point did not return repeated calls for comment. It’s not immediately clear what disciplinary measures the cadets face, but illegal drug use can be grounds for immediate expulsion.

In 2001, three cadets at the Air Force Academy were caught doing drugs in a random drug test. Two were court-martialed and put in prison, the third resigned under pressure, and nine cadets were put on probation just for knowing about the drug use but not telling authorities.

Monge’s bust in 2016 involved five other cadets, including a defensive back on West Point’s famed football team, the Army Black Nights. Jared Rogers was not accused of selling drugs but he was addicted to pain pills. His crime was allowing a fellow cadet to use his car to bring drugs on campus.

Monge and Tevin Long, another West Point football player, were both court-martialed. Rogers avoided criminal charges but was given a dishonorable discharge.

Greg T. Rinckey, an attorney who specializes in military law and a former JAG (Army Judge Advocate General), has both prosecuted and defended soldiers, including West Point students, on everything from drug possession to murder.

Rinckey said the cadets will probably be “dis-enrolled” from the school, which is West Point-speak for “expelled.”

“It will depend on what defense counsel is going to spin,” Rinckey told The Post. “‘Fentanyl was in the brownies! They didn’t know!’ Or, ‘They thought they were smoking marijuana but fentanyl was in the joint.’ But if there are witnesses who say they saw [the cadets] buying and ingesting cocaine that’s something else altogether.”

West Point cadets are technically active-duty Army cadets and subject to being criminally charged, according to the UCMJ, or Uniform Code of Military Justice. They could also face a separate administrative action.

In a case like this one, Rinckey said, the usual process is that the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division (CID) will examine the case and present a report to the Superintendent of West Point, Lt. General Darryl A. Williams, who is likely to make a final decision about how to proceed in consultation with an Army lawyer, or Judge Advocate.

If kicked out, they’ll also have to pay back tuition. Schooling is normally free as long as students graduate and fulfill five years of military service.

“Uncle Sam is going to want his money back,” Rinckey said.

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