The chief of Air Force Fire Services in the US has been charged with procurement fraud.
James Podolske Jr, 59, of Panama City, Florida, faced a grand jury on Wednesday after which he was charged with disclosing “defense department contract bid or proposal information to give a competitive advantage to a corporate defense contractor” in February 2013.
The indictment also alleges that between 2009 and 2013 Podolske Jr defrauded around 25 businesses or individuals out of more than $133,000 intended for charity.
The US Justice Department said Podolske Jr organised an awards banquet and charity golf day to coincide with a conference sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs. He is alleged to have solicited donations from contractors and subcontractors seeking to do business with the Air Force and Department of Defense.
“Some of the donations were forwarded to charities as intended. Many donations, however, were deposited in Podolske Jr’s personal bank account,” said the Justice Department. “He is alleged to have converted these charitable donations for his personal use to pay off credit card debt, pay for vacations and for gambling at Gulf Shore casinos.”
If convicted of the offences Podolske Jr faces up to 25 years’ imprisonment, $500,000 in fines and three years of supervised release. The government is also seeking forfeiture of assets.
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