You Won’t Believe Who’s Cheating the Government Now
Policy + Politics

You Won’t Believe Who’s Cheating the Government Now

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times

Military brass has been taking a lot of criticism for ethical violations lately, including the suspension of 92 Air Force officers for cheating on a nuclear missile test. A shocking new DOD document shows this cheating is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure,” published by the Pentagon’s General Counsel's Standards of Conduct Office, fills 164 pages with case after case of DOD personnel behaving badly. In the majority of cases, this unethical behavior was somehow connected to money. 

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“Our goal is to provide DOD personnel with real examples of federal employees who have intentionally or unwittingly violated the standards of conduct," the document, which is dated July 2013, reads. "Some cases are humorous, some sad, and all are real. Some will anger you as a Federal employee and some will anger you as an American taxpayer."

The characters in most cases are anonymous, but the problems unearthed in the report are a reflection on the Pentagon’s irresponsible financial culture. They include credit card abuse, gift violations, gambling, bribery, fraud, time and attendance violations and outside compensation, among others.

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Here’s a sampling of what the report contains:

  • A lieutenant was forced to pay $120,000 in fines for accepting bribes from contractors.
  • The director of a naval health clinic received asked for a $3,000 loan from a subordinate -- he then asked for $6,000. Later, the director asked for $10,000. The subordinate declined, as the supervisor never paid back the original three grand.
  • A civilian working for the Navy asked for a $5,000 bribe to steer a $153,000 federal contract to a company.
  • An offshore equipment inspector noticed that some machinery was in need of repair. He referred his brother-in-law’s company to perform the work. In return, the brother-in-law treated the inspector to an evening with a “lady of dubious morals.”
  • Two Air Force generals, a Navy admiral and a Marine general extending a trip in Japan to play golf at a cost of $3,000.
  • A former DOD employee referred to himself as “The Godfather” due to his ability to steer contracts to companies willing to pay bribes. In return, he received a $10,000 fee (he was supposed to get $40,000, but the feds nabbed him before he could collect the rest).
  • An Army officer accepted $37,500 in cash for facilitating contracts between Iraqis and the U.S. government while deployed in Baghdad. He was caught, jailed and had to pay the money back.
  • Camp Arijan in Kuwait was a den of illegality.  While stationed there, retired Army Major Christopher H. Murray received  $225,000 in bribes from DOD contractors. Army Major James Momon, Jr. aimed a bit higher while there, accepting $5.8 million for contract rewards. Both were caught and their sentences are pending.

This one is worth quoting in full.

  • “Worthy of a plot in a daytime soap opera, a Navy commander began seeing a woman that he had met on a dating website. The Commander neglected to tell the woman that he was married with kids. After six months, the Commander grew tired of the relationship and attempted to end it by sending a fictitious email to his lover informing her that he had been killed. The Commander then relocated to Connecticut to start a new assignment. Upon receipt of the letter, his mistress showed up at the Commander’s house to pay her respects, only to be informed, by the new owners of the Commander’s reassignment and new location.  The Commander received a punitive letter of reprimand, and lost his submarine command.”

The wrongdoing chronicled in the surprisingly readable report is not limited to Pentagon employees. A Postal worker was extorting money from people on his route in exchange for the delivery of government assistance checks. He got three years probation.

Many of the incidents in the report are undated, so it’s not clear how long a time frame they cover. But even if the misconduct occurred over a long period of time, it amounts to a shocking record of misconduct by government employees.

DOD writes that it hopes the document serves as a deterrent for employees looking to profit from illegal activity. 

“Please pay particular attention to the multiple jail and probation sentences, fines, employment terminations and other sanctions that were taken as a result of these ethical failures,” the document warns. “Violations of many ethical standards involve criminal statutes.”

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