Missile Launch Officer Dismissed From Air Force for Drug Use

Law

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- A nuclear missile launch officer who pleaded guilty to illegal drug use was dismissed from the Air Force and sentenced to a month of confinement in a Montana jail.

The officer, 2nd Lt. Nicole Dalmazzi of the 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom Air Force Base, said she took ecstasy pills five times between January 2013 and February 2014, in part because she was going through a divorce.

Base officials said there was no indication she had used drugs while on duty.

Lt. Col. Lyndell Powell of Joint Lewis-McChord Air Force Base sentenced Dalmazzi on Wednesday.

The drug investigation began in August 2013 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. Investigators examined the cellphones of two airmen and found text messages to or from 11 other Air Force officers at several air bases.

The messages detailed "specific illegal drug use that included synthetic drugs, ecstasy and amphetamines," according to a report released in March 2014 that looked mainly at missileers' exam cheating and also traced a connection between the drug and cheating issues.

Two of the 11 officers were assigned to Malmstrom, and investigators determined both had used personal cellphones to discuss illegal drug activity as well as answers to routine proficiency tests taken by all missileers.

The cheating scandal implicated nearly 100 nuclear officers at Malmstrom, near Great Falls.

The Air Force fired nine midlevel nuclear commanders and supervisors, allowed a senior commander to resign, and said it would discipline dozens of junior officers in response to the exam-cheating scandal at Malmstrom.

In November, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered top-to-bottom changes in how the U.S. nuclear force is operated and managed.

The 341st Missile Wing operates 150 of the Air Force's 450 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs. Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota and F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming also have 150 missiles each.

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