Rear Admiral Tim Giardina, the number-two officer at US Strategic Command (Stratcom), has been reprimanded and fined by a naval court following an incident in which he was found to be in possession of counterfeit gambling chips at an Iowa casino. By accepting the non-judicial punishment, Giardina will still be able to serve within his rank at the navy – although he will have to forfeit a $4,000 paycheque as part of his punishment.
Located in Omaha, Nebraska; Stratcom is the unit which is responsible for America’s nuclear forces. Giardina was the deputy commander of this unit.
Last summer, Iowa gaming officials launched a probe into the deputy commander’s alleged use of counterfeit chips at a casino, and in the process they notified Stratcom that Giardina was under investigation. At that point, the navy’s Criminal Investigative Service took over and subsequently handled the investigation. In a statement which was released, the navy said that Giardina had found to be guilty on two counts of conduct which was unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman.
This result came after the CIS investigation found violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and was served by Admiral Bill Gortney, commander of the US Fleet Forces Command. The charges levelled against Giardina include his lying to the investigators tasked with handling the case, as well as his failure to turn in the counterfeit chips, which he claimed to have found at the casino. He subsequently used them. As a non-judicial punishment, Giardina was the recipient of a punitive letter of reprimand, as well as his having to forfeit his paycheque.
By accepting the punishment meted out by the naval court, Giardina will avoid having to face being court-marshalled in the event of him challenging the outcomes of the investigation’s findings. When he was the deputy commander at Stratcom, he held the respected three-star rank of vice admiral. While the investigation ran its course, he was reassigned to navy staff ranks and was required to revert back to his previous two-star rank of Rear Admiral.
The counterfeit casino chip incident took place at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed a concern about nuclear leadership lapses, and has since ordered a broad review of the United States’ nuclear forces.