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One of the highest-ranking military officers ever convicted on drug charges has been sentenced to five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Robert L. Loeh was convicted at general court-martial for conspiracy to possess and distribute the designer drug Ecstacy. The 19-year Navy veteran also pleaded guilty to charges of disobeying orders against fraternizing with enlisted personnel.

It was the type of "fraternization" that led to Loeh's downfall. Investigators were tipped off to Loeh's drug activities by a former homosexual "lover." When cops raided the 40-year old officer's condo May 31 last year, they took into custody two sailors who also face drug charges.

Petty Officers 3rd Class Dustin Larck and Matthew Lenhoff are scheduled for court-martial in the coming weeks.

Loeh had been maintenance officer on the aircraft carrier Constellation. One former enlisted man who worked with the convicted officer, said Loeh "was able to operate with impunity" on ship because the Constellation's top brass were "not concerned about" what a lieutenant commander was doing.

"Loeh was a real jerk and treated his men like they were slaves," the former first class petty officer told "He deserves whatever is coming to him."

Based on original charges of drug abuse, selling drugs, drunkenness, sexual assault and fraternization, Loeh could have received a maximum of 192 years imprisonment. In a plea bargain, charges of distribution of ketamine and LSD were dropped.

The Loeh case, a major embarrassment to the Navy, is one of the very few where field-grade or senior officers in the military have been convicted on drug charges. The highest-ranking officer on record to be court-martialed and convicted on such charges was Air Force Col. James V. Kehrli. In 1971, the highly-decorated pilot was busted in Vietnam after an airman told investigators the colonel asked him where to get some marijuana.

At the court-martial, held at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Saigon, two other enlisted men testified they had smoked marijuana with Col. Kehrli.

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