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Second Air Force Academy running back faces cocaine court-martial

Junior running back Jon Lee leaps into the end zone for a touchdown as the U.S. Air Force Academy met the Colgate Raiders Aug 31, 2013, at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Falcons defeated Colgate in their home opener, 38-13. Lee, from Bethlehem, Ga., rushed for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)
October 04, 2019

A second Air Force Academy standout running back will face court-martial for cocaine charges.

Senior cadet Joseph Saucier will be tried on charges that he used cocaine and possessed the drug with intent to distribute, the academy said Tuesday.

The Saucier trial, set to start Thursday, follows a September guilty plea from former Falcons running back Cole Fagan for cocaine use.

“It must be emphasized that charges are merely accusations, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty,” the academy said in a news release.

Saucier was the team’s stunning, swerving change-of-pace back in 2018, with 420 yards from scrimmage and a pair of touchdowns. His 6.4 yards per carry led the team, and he also threw for a score.

Fagan was the academy’s top running back in 2018, when he rumbled for 997 yards and seven touchdowns. He was sentenced to 15 days behind bars for using cocaine in an off-campus incident in 2017.

Saucier’s more serious charges also include allegations that he possessed and intended to distribute marijuana. The charges followed his December arrest in Arkansas for alleged drug possession.

Saucier came to the academy as a high school phenom who topped his school’s record books for the 100-meter dash and dazzled on the gridiron.

But he was also known as a rare eccentric on the button-down Falcons team. He had Hollywood ambitions and admitted to liking football more than military training and academic rigor.

”I came here to play football,” Saucier told The Gazette last year. “I didn’t come here to be a cadet. Sometimes I have to remind myself that being a cadet will help me be a better football player.”

Expected to compete for a starting job on the 2019 Falcons squad, Saucier was dropped from the football roster after the Arkansas allegations emerged.

Academy prosecutors allege Saucier used cocaine in November during two weeks when he played games against Wyoming and Colorado State.

Two other charges stem from his Dec. 17 arrest in his hometown of Rogers, Ark. Police records there show Saucier was held on suspicion of possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Academy cadets are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice even when they’re off campus. Military prosecutors took over the Saucier case, and a military jury could give him up to 15 years in prison if they find him guilty of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. Military charges of drug use carry a five-year maximum sentence.

The latest charges involving football players come five years after the team and the academy were rocked by a scandal involving allegations of widespread misconduct on the Troy Calhoun-coached team, including drug use.

The academy commissioned a pair of investigations into athlete misconduct since and launched programs designed to ensure cadets meet the school’s conduct expectations on and off the field.


© 2019 The Gazette