The U.S. Department of defence just updated its Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure, and boy does it contain some doozies.
Taking a Blackhawk to lunch? Russian-bride scam? Faking your own death? It’s got them all.
There more than a hundred case studies included in the publication, so we picked 18 that were particularly eye-opening.
The following accounts are taken directly from encyclopedia, and none of the language or the (sometimes humorous) titles were changed.
Abuse of Position: 'But, Judge, I didn't get anything!'
'An offshore safety inspector found much of the Government's equipment to be in need of repairs to meet safety standards. He then referred the business to his brother-in-law's repair shop. The rig operators smelled a rat and called the FBI. They discovered that, in return for each referral, the brother-in-law was treating the inspector to an evening with a lady of dubious morals.
The case was brought to trial. In his defence, the inspector claimed that he had not received a 'thing of value' in return for the referral. The judge didn't buy it - and neither did his wife.'
Bribery: Fraud, Conspiracy, and Bribery … Oh My!
'Criminal charges put a computer contractor out of business and landed government employees in jail. Two civilian employees at a Military Depot, along with the contractor's government sales manager, were convicted on various conspiracy and bribery charges for defrauding the U.S. Government under multiple contracts in return for cash and merchandise.
The employees were part of a scheme in which they used government funds to purchase laptops and recycled computer components from the contractor's sales manager at inflated prices, and split the overcharged amounts among themselves. One employee received prison time, three years probation, and was ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution. The other employee was sentenced to 22 months in jail, three years of probation, and ordered to pay $18,000.
The sales manager received a similar sentence. The computer contractor was indicted on nine felony counts and subjected to asset forfeiture of approximately $7.8 million. The charges were later withdrawn after the company filed for bankruptcy. The investigation also resulted in five other individuals charged with prison time and ordered to pay a combined $127,000 in restitution.'
Improper Compensation -- Sergeant at-Arms of the United States Senate Takes Free Flight to Hawaii
'The Sergeant-at-Arms is the chief purchasing agent for the Senate and in that capacity he recommended that the Senate purchase and install a $219,000 AT&T telephone system for the U.S. Capitol Police. Three weeks later, he accepted a round‑trip Washington‑Honolulu airline ticket, valued at $2,700, from an AT&T employee.
He pleaded guilty on November 18, 1992, to one misdemeanour count of violating 18 U.S.C. 203 and was sentenced to one year of supervised probation, to pay full restitution of $2,700, and a $5,000 civil fine.'
Conflict of Interest: Army Employee Sentenced for Conflicts of Interest
'A civilian employee of the U.S. Army pleaded guilty to violation of the conflicts of interest statute (18 U.S.C. 208) in Federal Court and was sentenced to one year probation and a $1,000 fine. The employee had participated in the awarding and administration of contracts involving a company in which the employee owned stock, thereby participating personally and substantially as a Government employee in matters that affected his financial interests. The employee, who filed financial disclosure statements (OGE Form 450), had also failed to disclose his financial interest in the company.'
Credit Card Abuse -- Electronics Scam Lands Sailor in Hot Water
An active duty Navy sailor and authorised Government purchase card user noticed one day that some of the items she had purchased for her Command were missing from the warehouse. She decided to go ahead and repurchase the items to 'prevent any of her shipmates from getting in trouble for stealing Government property.'
This incident seemed to give the sailor an idea because about two years later she decided to try to use her Government purchase card to conduct widespread theft. Ever cautious, she first conducted a few 'test runs' by purchasing items for her personal use on her Government card. The misuse went undetected so the sailor joined with a co-conspirator to discuss even bigger plans. They decided to buy laptop computers and plasma televisions on the sailor's Government card and to re-sell them for personal profit. Navy auditors discovered the scheme and determined that the sailor and her co-conspirator had defrauded the Government out of $363,243. The sailor had used her Government card to purchase 162 notebook computers, 65 big screen televisions, 22 digital cameras, GPS devices, camcorders, computer monitors, and home theatre systems. Her efforts to prevent her shipmates from getting into trouble and her subsequent emulation of the local cut-rate electronic retailer led the sailor to plead guilty to one count of theft of Government property in violation of 18 U.S.C. §641.
Endorsements -- Be Careful from Here Onward
'Seven senior military officers, including four Generals, were found to have misused their positions, improperly implying DoD endorsement or support of a Non-Federal Entity while appearing in a promotional video for the Christian Embassy.
A Pentagon Chaplain arranged for Christian Embassy employees to obtain Pentagon building passes for filming. The video showed interviews conducted at recognisable Pentagon locations, featuring the senior officers in uniform and displaying their ranks as they discussed their Christian faith.
Two SES Government employees who appeared in the video without title and whose comments did not create the appearance of DoD sanction were found to have properly participated in their personal capacity. The military officers, however, violated Paragraph 3-209 of DoD 5500.7-R, Joint Ethics Regulation which prohibits actions by employees suggesting DoD endorsement of Non-Federal Entities, and C.F.R. 2635.702 which prohibits using one's public office for private endorsement.'
Financial Disclosure Violation -- Failing to Report Gift Leads to FBI Agent Resignation
'A Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) in the Charlotte, North Carolina FBI field office was forced to resign in the wake of revelations that he had failed to disclose gifts from a suspect in an organised gambling and money laundering investigation. The SSA had been acting head of the White Collar Crime Squad, which was handling the investigation; he had also served as the suspect's official handler after the suspect agreed to cooperate with investigators.
Due to his duties, the SSA was required to file an OGE Form 450, the Confidential Financial Disclosure Report. The SSA certified that he had received no gifts or travel reimbursements from any one source totaling more than $260.00. However, investigators soon learned that on two separate occasions, the SSA had accompanied the suspect to Las Vegas, where the suspect paid for the SSA's hotel and gambling expenses. The value of the trips was estimated to be in excess of $6,000.
The SSA pleaded guilty to 18 U.S.C. 1018, making a false writing. He was forced to resign from the FBI and was sentenced to two years' probation and 400 hours of community service.'
Fraud -- 'I do' … Though I Don't Even Know You
Six service members stationed in the United States were arrested and charged with defrauding the government for their part in a scheme to marry Russian women in exchange for drawing military benefits. The brother of one of the service-members setup the introduction to the Russian women while living in New York.
The service-members then filed false basic allowance for housing (BAH) and family separation allowance (FSA) claims for their absent wives that defrauded the government of over $234,000. The investigation revealed most of the men never actually lived with their so-called wives.
The service-members were court-martialed, reduced in rank, and ordered to pay restitution equaling the amount of money each received fraudulently. The women, who obtained visas enabling them to stay in the States as a result of the false marriages, were deported.'
Gambling and Contest Violations -- Yes, Fantasy Football IS Gambling
'Allegations were made regarding Air National Guard members running a 'fantasy football' league on Government computers. Each member of the league contributed $10 to play, with the winner buying all of the other participants' pizza at the end of the season. It was determined that the winner actually expended more on the pizza than the amount of the winnings. It was also determined that activities associated with the game were conducted on break and lunch times.
Section 2-302 of DoD 5500.7-R, Joint Ethics Regulation, prohibits gambling by DoD personnel while on duty or while on Federal property. In addition, it was a misuse of Government resources to carry out such an activity on Government computers. The guardsmen involved were counseled by their commanding officer.'
Improper Gifts -- One Party Too Many
'The Big Boss was retiring and his second-in-command called the secretary to ask her to set up a retirement party. He directed her to send a memo to the staff advising them of what they were expected to contribute. She was assigned paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils, and a paper tablecloth. Everyone, including the secretary, was expected to contribute $25 for food and gifts.
To the surprise of no one, the second-in-command was selected as the new Big Boss. His new branch chief called the secretary to have her set up a 'promotion' party. The branch chief's memo to the staff advised them of what they were expected to contribute. For the secretary, it was once again paper plates, napkins, plastic utensils and paper tablecloth. Everyone, including the secretary, was again expected to contribute $25 for food and gifts. To no one's surprise, the branch chief was selected as the new second-in-command. Her senior analyst called the secretary and asked her to set up a 'promotion' party. . . The secretary contacted the Ethics Office instead, where disciplinary action was initiated.
Subpart C of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch (5 C.F.R. 2635) establishes the rules for gifts between employees. In general an employee may not give a gift or make a donation to a gift to a superior. Furthermore, employees may not generally accept gifts from other employees who receive less pay. There are certain exceptions, of course.'
Improper Claims Against Gov't: Air Force Civilian Employee Improperly Represents Fellow Employees
'A civilian employee of the Oklahoma City, Air Logistics centre (OC‑ALC), who was also the former OC‑ALC shop steward, was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. 205. The employee, who was not an attorney, owned a private company called Associated labour Consultants. This company provided legal services to other OC‑ALC civilian employees by filing legal briefs on behalf of the civilian employees and by representing them before various board hearings against the United States.
The employee collected approximately $1,050 in fees from OC‑ALC civilian employees for his services, and had billed out but had not collected an additional $1,853.
The Air Force employee was charged with a civil violation of 18 U.S.C. 205. The case was dismissed without prejudice. On February 2, 1998, the parties entered into a stipulated agreement in which the accused agreed to pay the United States $3,000 and to refrain from advising, counseling, or representing persons with claims against the United States.'
An officer created a courier service to transport packages of rugs and guns from the US to Afghanistan.
Misuse #2 -- Taking the Blackhawk Out for Lunch
'A concerned citizen contacted the Inspector General after seeing a Blackhawk helicopter parked in a field behind a restaurant. Inside, he found five service members that had stopped for lunch and were enjoying their meal with several civilians.
An investigation revealed that the soldiers were on a training mission, but they had properly listed the restaurant stop in their mission plan. Since the stop was properly listed, the soldiers had not violated any regulations, but they still received verbal counseling because their actions created an appearance of impropriety.'
Morale, Welfare, Recreation violations -- The Ultimate Deceit
'A military officer was reprimanded for faking his own death to end an affair. 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 6 months, the Commander grew tired of the relationship and attempted to end it by sending a fictitious e-mail 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.'
Post-Employment Violations -- Federal Employee Costs Boeing $615 Million, Federal Employee Ends Up Behind Bars
'The former chief procurement officer for the Air Force, who was responsible for awarding billions of dollars in contracts, requested Boeing executives to give her daughter and son-in-law jobs at Boeing. They did, and after the chief procurement officer retired from the Air Force, they gave her a job, too.
After a criminal investigation, Boeing admitted to corruption charges involving conflicts of interest and other unrelated violations. Boeing settled with the Justice Department for $615 million. The former Air Force chief procurement officer met with Boeing's Chief Financial Officer and discussed a potential job with Boeing while Boeing was seeking a $20 billion contract to lease tanker aircraft to the Air Force.
Federal ethics rules require federal employees to disqualify themselves from participating in matters regarding companies with which they are seeking employment, and federal law imposes criminal liability when federal employees participate in matters in which they have a personal financial interest. The procurement officer did not disqualify herself from participating in matters involving Boeing as she should have.
Rather, she used her position to get her daughter, son-in-law, and herself jobs. She ended up serving a prison sentence for conflicts of interest violations. Boeing's Chief Financial Officer was also charged in the investigation and pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting acts affecting a personal financial interest.
He was sentenced to four months in prison, a $250,000 fine, and 200 hours of community service. In addition to settling with the government for $615 million, Boeing's $20 billion tanker lease contract was canceled.'
A prosecutor successfully litigated claims against illegal hunting trophies, and kept the trophies for himself.
Salary For Gov't Work From Non-Gov't Source -- Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) in Tucson Illegally Possesses Sheep Skull and Horns
'The Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) prosecuted an individual for illegally killing a bighorn sheep on an Indian Reservation. As a result of the prosecution, the hunter forfeited the bighorn sheep and trophy (skull and horns), valued at approximately $5,000, to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Pursuant to a request from the AUSA, the Arizona Game and Fish Department entered into an agreement with the AUSA allowing him to publicly display the skull and horns in his office, but requiring their return upon request.
However, after leaving employment with the U.S. Attorney's office, the AUSA took the skull and horns with him and treated them as his personal property. When the former AUSA was questioned a year later about his possession of the skull and horns, he claimed that an unspecified Indian had sent the skull and horns to him in appreciation for his work on the prosecution of the hunter.
Investigation showed that such a gift would have been contrary to tribal practices and no member of the tribe could be found who knew anything about the alleged gift.'
Time and Attendance Violations -- Out-of-Office Reply: Out Sick: Can be Reached at Bowling Alley
'A GS-14 Director, within an Army Command, failed to show up to work for at least three months. He complained of needing a double hip replacement but never submitted sick leave. Though he claimed to work from home, he was never approved for a work-at-home program.
People reported seeing him around the community and he was spotted at the PX, the Commissary, and even the bowling alley! The man received a verbal reprimand and was counseled on appropriate leave request and approval procedures.'
Travel Violations -- A Private Jet? Don't Mind if I Do …
'An O-9 with over 35 years of service in the U.S. military was scheduled for a command visit to a base. His original C-12 flight was delayed, so his staff spontaneously arranged a substitute flight for him: a C-5 that had been previously unscheduled to fly.
Despite his many years of experience and his stated commitment to confronting travel abuse issues within his command, he and three members of his staff boarded a near-empty jet to make the command visit on time. The government incurred $38,000 in additional costs for the special flight. The officer was counseled by his command about the violation.'
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