Two months before being dismissed from his leadership role at the Virginia Beach-based Naval Special Warfare Group Eight, Navy SEAL Captain Richard Zaszewski faced allegations of driving under the influence, as detailed in court documents.

Removed From His Position

The Naval Special Warfare Command declared on March 20 that Captain Zaszewski was removed from his position due to a loss of trust in his leadership capabilities. According to the legal filings, he is currently facing a misdemeanor charge for a first-time offense of driving while intoxicated. This charge is related to his January 19 arrest, as recorded in the Virginia Beach General District Court.

Captain Zaszewski, who has been in the Navy for 26 years since May 1997, was elevated to captain in August 2019. At the time of the incident, he was the commanding officer of the SEAL team stationed at the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.

The incident occurred around 2 a.m. on January 19, when Virginia Beach police observed Captain Zaszewski’s vehicle erratically changing lanes. He subsequently failed a roadside sobriety test, and a breathalyzer showed his blood alcohol content to be 0.18%, well above Virginia’s legal limit.

While Navy officials have not confirmed if this incident directly influenced Captain Zaszewski’s dismissal, the civilian law firm JAG Defense, known for representing military personnel, emphasized that the Navy has a longstanding policy of not tolerating any misconduct among its leadership ranks. Grover Baxley, the founder of JAG Defense and a former judge advocate in the Air Force, stated that any commanding officer facing such charges would typically be removed from their post.

In a statement, the Navy underscored the high standards of conduct expected from its leaders and their accountability when these standards still need to be met.

Lieutenant Commander Chelsea Irish, a spokesperson for the Naval Special Warfare Command, noted that the decision to relieve Captain Zaszewski was made after thoroughly considering the facts, reflecting the imperative to maintain the integrity of Navy leadership standards.
Reports indicate that Captain Zaszewski is one of six commanding officers dismissed by the Navy this year. He has chosen not to comment on the situation through his attorney, Robert Morecock.