Derek Oatis

Choate is one of the most exclusive, expensive prep schools in the country. It is located on 458 acres in Wallingford, Connecticut. John F. Kennedy was an alumnus.

In April 1984, Choate upperclassman Derek Oatis flew to Venezuela over spring break and returned with 350 grams of cocaine in his shaving kit. He also possessed a list of fellow Choate students from whom he’d collected money to finance the drug purchase. U.S. customs, performing a “cold hit” or random search at Kennedy airport, found the drugs and arrested Oatis. Sixteen other students were implicated in the scheme. Twelve were expelled. None served jail time; they were penalized by probation and fines.


At a sentencing hearing in Federal District Court on November 21, 1985, Oatis’s parents tearfully begged for leniency. Judge T.F. Gilroy Daly – an alumnus of Fairfield Prep, Georgetown, and Yale – gave Oatis 5 years’ probation and 5,000 hours of community service.