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Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure Department of Defense .pdf



Original filename: Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure - Department of Defense.pdf
Title: Encyclopedia of Ethical Failures
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Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure

Department of Defense
Office of General Counsel
Standards of Conduct Office
Updated October 2014

Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 3
Disclaimer ...................................................................................................................................... 3
Abuse of Position ........................................................................................................................... 4
Bribery (18 U.S.C. § 201-Type Violations) .................................................................................. 11
Compensation for Representational Services from Non-Federal Sources
(18 U.S.C. § 203-Type Violations) ........................................................................................ 32
Conflicts of Interest (18 U.S.C. § 208-Type Violations) .............................................................. 39
Credit Card Abuse ........................................................................................................................ 58
Endorsements……………………………………………………………………………………. 65
Financial Disclosure Violations .................................................................................................... 66
Fraud (Violations Not Covered Elsewhere) .................................................................................. 72
Gambling and Other Contest Violations ....................................................................................... 83
Gift Violations .............................................................................................................................. 84
Involvement in Claims Against the Government or in Matters Affecting the Government
(18 U.S.C. § 205-Type Violations) ......................................................................................... 89
Misuse of Government Resources and Personnel ......................................................................... 92
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Issues ......................................................................... 119
Political Activity Violations ....................................................................................................... 121
Post-Employment Violations (18 U.S.C. § 207-Type Violations) .............................................. 132
Salary for Government Work from Non-Government Source
(18 U.S.C. § 209-Type Violations) ......................................................……………………..146
Time and Attendance Violations ................................................................................................ 154
Travel Violations ........................................................................................................................ 161

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Introduction
The Standards of Conduct Office of the Department of Defense General
Counsel’s Office has assembled the following selection of cases of ethical failure for use
as a training tool. Our goal is to provide DoD personnel with real examples of Federal
employees who have intentionally or unwittingly violated the standards of conduct.
Some cases are humorous, some sad, and all are real. Some will anger you as a Federal
employee and some will anger you as an American taxpayer.
Please pay particular attention to the multiple jail and probation sentences, fines,
employment terminations and other sanctions that were taken as a result of these ethical
failures. Violations of many ethical standards involve criminal statutes. Protect yourself
and your employees by learning what you need to know and accessing your Agency
ethics counselor if you become unsure of the proper course of conduct. Be sure to access
them before you take action regarding the issue in question. Many of the cases displayed
in this collection could have been avoided completely if the offender had taken this
simple precaution.
The cases have been arranged according to offense for ease of access. Feel free to
reproduce and use them as you like in your ethics training program. For example - you
may be conducting a training session regarding political activities. Feel free to copy and
paste a case or two into your slideshow or handout – or use them as examples or
discussion problems. If you have a case you would like to make available for inclusion
in a future update of this collection, please email it to OSD.SOCO@MAIL.MIL or you
may fax it to (703) 695-4970.

Disclaimer
The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure is intended to sensitize Federal employees to
the reach and impact of Federal ethics statutes and regulations. It is best used to
supplement personal verification of those statutes and regulations. It should not be
interpreted as a binding or authoritative presentation of the law.

Note of Special Thanks
We thank the DoD OIG for their case contributions to the Encyclopedia.
3

Abuse of Position

If I Help You Land This Multimillion Dollar Contract, Will You Give
Me a Job?
A former government human resource director was sentenced to two years of
probation for violating conflicts of interest laws, 18 U.S.C. § 208, and lying on his
financial disclosure report. A whistleblower spilled the beans on a polling and market
research firm’s price inflation for government contracts and simultaneously its offer of a
six-figure salary to the government official who was working to expand the firm’s
multimillion dollar contract with his agency. The former official was criminally
sentenced to two-years of probation for failing to notify ethics officials about his
employment arrangement with the firm on his financial disclosure report. In a related
civil case, the former employee was barred from future government contracting work and
forced to pay a $40,000 fine. Last but not least, the firm pulled his employment offer
after the news broke.

General Discovers that Military Aides Are Not Supposed to Feed Cats
Military officials discovered that a General was misusing Government personnel,
improperly accepting gifts of services from subordinates, and misusing his position.
What did he do? The General used his enlisted aides to help host unofficial functions at
his headquarters, provide driving lessons to a family member, and to feed a friend’s cat.
Although the aides were initially paid with $30-$40 Starbucks gift cards for their
services, the General, taking full responsibility for his actions even though he retired,
rectified the misuse and underpayment for services by retroactively paying the aides
almost $2,000.

Misadventures in Hiring Family
Two retired colonels working for a National Guard educational program were
found to have not been impartial in their duties when engaging in family hires. Colonel 1
nicely asked Colonel 2 to authorize the hiring of Colonel 1’s son as a contractor which
Colonel 2 did. Not to be outdone, Colonel 2 oversaw the hiring of his nephew and
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brother-in-law as contractors. Colonel 2 even attempted to get his own son hired as a
contractor, but Colonel 2’s supervisor correctly thought it would be inappropriate. Each
colonel was issued a letter of caution to avoid an appearance of a conflict and they were
required to take an annual ethics training course.

Chief Authority
A military service Chief Master Sergeant abused her authority and improperly
used a government vehicle when she employed a government vehicle and three noncommissioned officers under her supervision to move personal property in a government
rental vehicle. The soldiers helped her for 3 hours. The Chief Master Sergeant was given
a verbal warning and advised of the improper use of government vehicles and the abuse
of authority.

Abuse of Position and Bribery
A military service Captain used his official position as a reservist to obtain
contracts for private sector companies with which he had an affiliation. In addition, the
Captain accepted a “finder’s fee” (i.e., kickbacks) from one company for his efforts in
helping the company obtain government contract work. For his significant ethical failure,
the Captain was “allowed” to retire at the grade of Commander, though he had been
selected to be an Admiral. In addition, the Captain was debarred for one year, while two
of the affiliated companies entered into administrative agreements (for 3 years) with the
military service.

Coercion by Supervisor
The director of a naval health clinic received a $3,000 loan from a subordinate
after requesting that the subordinate loan him $6,000. The $3,000 apparently wasn’t
enough, however, and the director later asked for $10,000. This time the subordinate
declined. After the director only repaid a fraction of the $3,000, the subordinate
approached the chain of command. In addition to being directed by his commanding
officer to repay the rest of the loan, the director was provided with a written letter of
counseling regarding his unprofessional and unethical conduct.
5

DoD GS-12 Removed for Misuse of Authority
A GS-12 Recreation Program Manager who supervised approximately 75 civilian
and military subordinates was removed from his position for several ethical violations,
including the failure to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The employee moved into
visitors’ quarters on a military installation where he stayed for six months without paying
full price for his room by pressuring his subordinate to acquiesce to his payment
arrangements. He also authorized an employee to make a $400 agency expenditure to
purchase workout clothing for one MWR fitness instructor. The employee had no reason
to believe he had the authority to authorize this expenditure and should have made
inquiry before giving authorization. The administrative law judge stated that this act
“at the very least gives the appearance of impropriety and should have raised a red flag.”

Business Costs Employee
A former administrator for the Department of Health and Human Services took
several trips on the government’s dime that didn’t look good. The advisor informed the
HHS Secretary that he intended to seek employment in the private sector. The Secretary
asked him to stay with the Department until Congress passed the new Medicare
prescription drug benefits plan. The advisor agreed, but he continued to pursue his job
search while serving as a government employee. While there is nothing wrong with
government employees looking for a new job, the hang-up for this employee came when
he decided to take several trips ostensibly related to his work for the HHS. While he was
on these trips, he allegedly conducted “perfunctory meetings” for the HHS, and then he
went off to do what he had really come to do—to have interviews with potential
employers. Regardless of whether or not these trips were set up for the purpose of
conducting bono fide government business, the advisor’s meetings with potential
employers during those trips gave the appearance that he was using his position for
personal gain The employee has agreed to reimburse the government’s costs for the trips,
which totaled approximately $10,000 in value.

6

Federal Agent Demoted for I.D.ing Herself as a Federal Agent to a
Police Officer
A Supervisory Special Agent for the Department of the Treasury (GS-14) was a
passenger in a car that was pulled over by a local police officer. When the officer
approached the vehicle, the employee presented the officer with her credentials
identifying herself as a Federal Agent. The police officer had not asked to see the
employee’s identification at all. Because law enforcement officials may be tempted to
treat other law enforcement officials more favorably, the Department determined the
employee presented her government credentials to the police officer in hopes of receiving
more favorable treatment. The federal employee did not explicitly ask the police officer
for any favors, but the circumstances led her agency to the conclusion that she had
attempted to use her official position for personal gain, which is prohibited by federal
ethics rules. As a result, the employee’s agency determined that she was untrustworthy
as a supervisor and she was demoted.

Abuse of His Positions
A former ATF chief, Carl Truscott, was investigated by the Department of
Treasury Inspector General and found to have committed numerous ethics violations.
Among them, Truscott was found to have misused his position and to have wasted
government resources by giving his nephew unlimited access to ATF employees and
resources for a school project. The ATF’s Office of Public Affairs staff was told by
Truscott to comply with all of his nephew’s requests. The OPA staff ended up “spoon
feeding” Truscott’s nephew. OPA staff spent numerous hours conducting research on
publicly available information, mailing the nephew hard copies, providing the nephew
with stock film footage, and conducting tours and interviews for the nephew. Truscott
also asked employees at the Philadelphia field office to escort his nephew on tours, and to
perform demonstrations of canine drug detection for him. When Truscott’s nephew
requested to visit the ATF headquarters, Truscott allowed him to use ATF equipment,
including the ATF’s film studio, cameras, and teleprompters to film interviews.
Additionally, Truscott gave his nephew three personal interviews, including once at the
construction site of the new ATF building where Truscott, his assistant, and an OPA staff
member had to travel to give the interview. Truscott also used his speechwriter to draft
7

talking points for him to use in the interviews. And, as if that were not enough, after the
nephew completed the video and received an “A” grade for it, Truscott continued to
allow him to make requests to the ATF for suggestions on improving the video. One
employee reported spending four or five days complying with the nephew’s requests.
The IG was unable to tally the total number of employees and hours that were
devoted to Truscott’s nephew, but estimated that at least 20 ATF employees were
involved. The IG determined that Truscott violated government regulations prohibiting
federal employees from using their office for private gain, wasting government resources,
and influencing subordinates to waste government resources. (Office of the Inspector
General, Report of Investigation Concerning Alleged Mismanagement and Misconduct
by Carl J. Truscott, Former Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and
Explosives.

SES Official’s Involvement with Subordinate Leads to Retirement
The Inspector General found that an SES official engaged in an intimate
relationship with a subordinate, provided her preferential treatment when selecting her for
a new position, and misused Government resources and official time. The official retired
before the IG completed his report. The IG report indicated that the official’s
relationship with a subordinate adversely affected the workplace, violated the
requirements for members of the Senior Executive Service, and constituted conduct that
was prejudicial to the Government. Witnesses noted that the official failed to hold his
paramour accountable for her professional responsibilities, and when confronted by other
employees, became verbally abusing, vengeful, and angry. The official also served as the
selecting official, who selected his subordinate for promotion, while engaged in an
intimate relationship with her, thereby violating the Merit system principles and engaging
in a prohibited personal practice.

Affair with Assistant Leads to Employee Removal
A Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense was terminated when
investigators discovered that he had engaged in a romantic relationship with a DoD
contractor who had served as his executive assistant. The executive assistant claimed that
the end of their affair and the official’s subsequent persistence had led her to leave her
8

position. When questioned by investigators regarding the affair, the Deputy Assistant
initially lied as to the nature of the relationship.
Although charges of sexual harassment could not be substantiated, the Inspector
General found the Deputy Assistant’s behavior to be incompatible with the standards of
conduct established for DoD employees and members of the Senior Executive Service.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense promptly initiated actions to terminate the Deputy
Assistant.

DEA Agent - Misuse of Position
A DEA agent whose responsibilities included fleet management and authorization
of repairs of Government vehicles had attempted to obtain free repair services for his
personal vehicles from two vendors. The agent also insinuated to the vendors that the
cost of repairing his personal vehicles could be recouped as part of the charges for repairs
to Government vehicles. After these allegations were substantiated, the agent was
dismissed from DEA.

Improper Use of Position
The Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR)
investigated allegations that a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney prepared another
person's application for a visa with a cover memorandum on DOJ stationery. The DOJ
attorney also included one of his DOJ business cards in the submission. The foreign
individual was seeking a visa in order to enter the country to perform certain functions
for a non-profit organization. The DOJ attorney told OPR that he did not intend to gain
preferential treatment for the visa applicant by identifying himself as a DOJ attorney, but
believed his actions were consistent with what DOJ employees are permitted to do on
behalf of non-profit organizations.
OPR concluded that the actions of the DOJ attorney were improper, but not
intentionally so. Section 2635.703 of the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of
the Executive Branch prohibits employees from using their position or title for purposes
of endorsement.

9


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