Police in Los Angeles have arrested a midshipman who fled the U.S. Naval Academy with his girlfriend the day before he was to face a court-martial last month.
Security guards at the Los Angeles Hilton on Wilshire Boulevard performed a "citizen's arrest" on Clayton Matthew Lewis at the Hilton after he left the hotel restaurant Wednesday without paying for his $14.86 dinner, a Los Angeles police spokesman said. Police subsequently arrested him and charged him with defrauding an innkeeper.
Lewis, 20, pleaded no contest to the charge in Los Angeles Muncipal Court yesterday afternoon and was sentenced to two days in prison and 12 months' probation, according to a court spokesman. Because he already had spent two days in jail, he was immediately placed in Navy custody. Lewis had told a Hilton security guard that he was absent without leave from the Navy and the guard informed the police.
Naval Academy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Steve Clawson said Lewis probably will be taken to the Navy brig at the Marine base at Quantico to await his court-martial.
Lewis' girlfriend, Jennifer Lesley Simmons, 18, who was with him in Los Angeles, was flying home last night to Richardson, Tex., her mother Diane Simmons said.
Lewis, who has completed two years at the academy, was charged in June with stealing about $8,000 in clothes, appliances and record albums from the Midshipmen's Store at the academy, as well as conspiracy and receipt of stolen goods. He also was charged with an unauthorized absence from the academy last May. If convicted, he could face up to 11 1/2 years in prison.
Lewis had been confined to the academy grounds while awaiting court-martial. Clawson said that Navy investigators have not decided whether to charge him with leaving the academy without permission.
Simmons was visiting Lewis when he disappeared from the academy on July 22, and she failed to return home to her parents the following day. The two apparently traveled to Texas soon after they left Annapolis, and Simmons went to a shoe store where she worked and collected two pay checks, Lewis' father Melvin said.
The Texas shoe store recently received a telephone call from the manager of a shoe store in Los Angeles who said that Simmons was applying for a job there, Melvin Lewis said. He said his son had telephoned a friend in Roanoke Rapids, Va., earlier this week, but told the friend only that he was fine, although short of money.