CREATED Sep. 30, 2013
Council Bluffs, IA - The number two officer in charge of our nuclear war fighting forces is under suspension. Vice Admiral Tim Giardina is suspected of using counterfeit gambling chips at a casino in Council Bluffs.
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations (DCI) wouldn't say whether they believe this is the first time the navy Vice Admiral committed theft.
Earlier this month, Giardina was suspended of his duties for an investigation that started in June. The DCI became aware of someone using counterfeit chips at Horseshoe Casino.
Special agent David Dales said initially the department didn't know who the suspect was. When investigators learned the status of the man of interest they "alerted authorities at Offutt [Air Force Base]."
Months after DCI told Offutt, Giardina was suspended. Spokesperson, Captain Pamela Kunze says the internal investigation started immediately. "At the command's request, a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation was initiated the following day."
Kunze wouldn't say what prompted the internal investigation or why the vice admiral was suspended. "The circumstances surrounding the admiral's suspension remain under investigation."
Dales says using counterfeit chips to "buy in" is a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. In Iowa, a class D felony is the lowest felony someone can be charged with. No charges have been filed at this time. Dales describes the crime as rare, but says it's theft.
Kunze says STRATCOM Commander General Robert Kehler submitted a recommendation to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that Giardina be reassigned.
"The commander took immediate action, he fully reviewed the information that was available and after careful consideration, made the decision to suspend admiral Giardina from any duties involving the handling of nuclear issues or anything requiring a security clearance," said Kunze.
Giardina is still assigned to the U.S. STRATCOM. Kunze said it's undetermined what if any additional actions will occur. Before his suspension, a change of command for his position was already scheduled. A deputy commander has been nominated to take over his position.