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2 Soldiers Arrested in Unusual Case Involving Defense Secrets and Drugs

February 26, 1988|WILLIAM OVEREND | Times Staff Writer

Two soldiers stationed at an Army base outside Barstow have been arrested for "improperly handling" secret defense papers in a bizarre national security case involving a tip to a television station and tales of a military LSD ring, federal officials disclosed Thursday.

Army Staff Sgt. Edmund Washington Tuck, 24, and Specialist 4th Class Kelly Joe Schmidt, 23, were arrested by agents of the FBI and the Army's intelligence organization at Tuck's Barstow condominium Wednesday after a tip to a Las Vegas television station that they were dealing in drugs and also were in possession of classified defense papers.

Steve Minium, news director for KTNV-TV in Las Vegas, said the case began Monday when a 19-year-old who described himself as a former mental patient arrived at the station with about a dozen secret documents and said he had obtained them from Tuck.

According to Minium, the informant said he had met Tuck in the mental ward of a Victorville hospital and later moved into Tuck's Barstow condo, where "his job was to run drugs," including LSD and methamphetamine. After a week at the condo, Minium said, the 19-year-old saw a briefcase with some documents and "flipped out" after deciding they were Army secrets.

"He said he took Tuck's car and spent the night at a friend's house, then came to Las Vegas," said Minium, who declined to identify the informant. "When I asked why, he didn't know. He said he just flipped out and ended up here."

After reviewing the documents, Minium contacted the FBI and Army officials, who arrested Tuck and Schmidt without incident. Officials said Thursday that they are being held at Ft. Irwin, about 35 miles northeast of Barstow, where both soldiers are stationed.

Army officials said the two were charged under military law. An investigation is continuing to determine if any documents were actually sold or transferred to other possible defendants in the case, officials said.

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