Friday, April 21, 2017

Soliciting Donations for Charities - While on the Job

During sentencing, a judge questioned why a high-level civilian employee of the Federal Government, who was well compensated, felt the need to steal from the charities for who he was ostensibly raising support. A rhetorical question, of course - one for which no answer was proffered. He should have plenty of time now to mull it over, he will be spending the next year and two months in a Federal prison. He'll also need to cover a $5 thousand dollar fine and pay $50 thousand in restitution from the charities he stole from.

According to the plea agreement, this former fire chief for the U.S. Air Force, knowingly disclosed Department of Defense bid information to give a competitive advantage to a defense contractor. According the Department of Justice press release however, that was not his most serious crime. He also pocketed some money belonging to charities.

For four year leading up to 2013, this individual used his position as Chief of Air Force Fire Services to defraud approximately 25 business entities or individuals out of tens of thousands of dollars per year that was intended for charity. He organized award banquets and charity golf outings to coincide with conferences sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He actively solicited donations for his golf outing from contractors and subcontractors who sought to do business with the Air Force and Department of Defense.

Some of the donations were forwarded to charities as intended however many donations were deposited in his personal bank account. According to the plea agreement, he used these funds to pay off credit card debt, vacations, and gambling. Sounds like he may have had a gambling problem.

The Justice Department did not disclose how either of these frauds were uncovered however it is likely that the investigation of one lead to another - because the investigations would be reviewing bank records to follow the source of funds deposited in his account.

Anyone with procurement responsibility, whether in the Government or employed by Government contractors, has no business soliciting funds for charities or for any other purpose, from firms that hope to benefit from their relationship with procurement. We don't know about the Air Force Fire Chief's department or organization, but most Government agencies have policies against such practice. We know of one Government agency that doesn't even allow parents to sell Girl Scout cookies to co-workers.

You can read the full DoJ press release here.

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