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A US Navy SEAL has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the hazing death of an Army Green Beret while the men were stationed in Africa.

Chief Petty Officer Tony DeDolph, a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, pleaded guilty earlier this month to involuntary manslaughter, hazing, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the strangulation death of Army Staff Sgt Logan Melgar, 34, in June 2017.

A military jury handed down DeDolph’s ten year sentence on Saturday at a Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia.

Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar

The officer was also hit with a reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of pay and allowances and was dishonorably discharged, according to a defense official.

At a plea hearing on January 14, DeDolph offered a detailed account of the night in which he and other servicemembers initiated a prank known as a ‘tape job’ on Melgar, a Special Forces soldier assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group.

DeDolph told a military judge that the men were trying to teach Melgar a lesson over perceived slights while they served in Mali in 2017.

But the SEAL said they were soon ‘in a state of shock and deeply disturbed’ after the duct-tape-bound Melgar remained unresponsive for several minutes.

DeDolph said his role in the prank was to cause Melgar to temporarily lose consciousness by placing him in a martial-arts-style chokehold.

He said the ‘rear naked choke’ restricts blood flow in the neck and is used in the military.

‘I effectively applied the chokehold as I have done numerous times in training, in combatives, and has been done to me,’ DeDolph said.

Melgar lost consciousness in about 10 seconds, but failed to wake up after the typical 30 seconds, the SEAL said.

‘Usually by that time, the individual has gotten up,’ he said. ‘And he did not.’

DeDolph is the third of four US service members – two SEALs and two Marines – to face a court martial for the death of Melgar, a Texas native.

The case has pulled back the curtain on misconduct among some of America´s most elite service members, while offering a brief window into how some have addressed grievances outside the law.

Charging documents don’t state why the service members were in Bamako, Mali. But US Special Forces have been in Africa to support and train local troops in their fight against extremists.

Adam Matthews, a SEAL who pleaded guilty for his role in Melgar’s death in 2019, testified previously that two Marines felt Melgar abandoned them while driving in separate vehicles in an unsafe place.

DeDolph said Wednesday that Melgar ‘had ditched’ service members as a ‘prank.’

The idea of pranking Melgar in return started off as a joke, but the talk escalated throughout the night, DeDolph said.

‘It was more of like a pack mentality, group decision,’ he said.

DeDolph said the plan included breaking down Melgar’s door with a sledge hammer for effect, binding him with duct tape and performing the chokehold.

Someone was supposed to dance around in a gorilla mask.

And video of the incident was supposed to be taken.

Besides involuntary manslaughter, DeDolph pleaded guilty to hazing, conspiracy and obstruction of justice for trying to cover up the cause of Melgar’s death.

He faced a maximum sentence of 22 and a half years in prison, losing rank and dishonorable discharge.


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