FEMALE NAVY MIDSHIPMAN SENT TO BRIG
GETS DISHONORABLE DISCHARGE - CONVICTED
OF STEALING FROM CLASSMATES AT NAVAL
ACADEMY - JULIA KAELBERER TO SERVE 15
MONTHS IN NORFOLK LOCKUP - DAUGHTER
OF RETIRED FOUR-STRIPER JUST WEEKS FROM
GRADUATION - CLAIMED "STRESS" - NOT DEVIL -
MADE HER DO IT - GETS LIGHT SENTENCE IN
"PLEA DEAL" WITH PROSECUTORS - COULD HAVE
RECEIVED 70 YEARS IN PRISON FOR HER CRIMES
A troubled Navy midshipman, just four weeks from graduation, will be going to the Norfolk,Va. brig instead, after she was convicted at court martial of theft and conduct unbecoming an officer.
Julia Kaelberer, 23, of Rialto, Calif. buried her face in her hands and cried when sentence was handed down. But the daughter of a retired Navy chaplain got off easy with the "slap-on-the-wrist" jail term and a dishonorable discharge. She could have been sent to prison for up to 70 years.
The Navy "brat" claimed "stress" caused her to go on a stealing spree that netted her dozens of items from her fellow midshipmen, but prosecutors told the court the woman was "of bad character." Lt. Cmdr. Peter Clemow said Kaelberer knew full well what she was doing was wrong. "She did it anyway, and she lied about it," he declared.
WENT ROOM TO ROOM STEALING POSSESSIONS
Investigators discovered the young woman made her biggest haul the weekend of Dec. 6, 2008. Most of the brigade midshipmen had gone to Philadelphia for the annual Army-Navy football game. Kaelberer was detailed to serve as duty officer.
Court documents show that she went into the rooms of several classmates at Bancroft Hall and stole various valuables, including a Swiss watch, a $3000 class ring, a GPS device and even a number of DVD's.
When confronted by officials, Kaelberer denied the theft. But she was caught using a stolen credit card at a Starbucks on Dock Street and the nearby Giant Food Store. After that, the woman confessed to her stealing spree, but blamed the crimes on her life "spiraling out of control."
Kaelberer attempted suicide and was shipped off to the psycho ward at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
The accused's father, retired Navy Chaplain and four-striper John Kaelberer, testified his daughter had been under tremendous pressure and "wasn't herself" lately.
As for the female midshipman, she explained her actions as compulsive. "I was so uncertain of my future, she complained. "Stealing felt like a way to get my anger out. . . . It was a cry for help."