Saturday, December 8, 2012

Abuse of Position and Bribery

A United States Navy Reserve 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. 

From the  
Encyclopedia of Ethical  Failures
Department of Defense, Office of General Counsel,
Standards of Conduct Office 
Updated July 2012


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

This is really about the limits of what you can do to officers (even in a courts martial) versus enlisted. Other than jail, all you can do is force them to retire at the last rank honorable served.

Anonymous said...

Disclaimer: I do not know the specifics of this case, the information was very (too) general. I carry no brief for the parties involved. But there was a part, as presented, that should be very concerning.

I understand how a Second Class gets busted down to Third Class, I understand (and have seen) how a Third Class gets busted down to Seaman Recruit, I understand how an officer or enlisted person can get busted out of the service entirely by Court Martial, but I do not understand how a holder of a commission from the President of the United States as a Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve is (administratively?) "allowed" to retire in a grade he does not hold.

Either the offenses/actions rise to the level of legal action by Court Martial or they should be addressed by administrative action by his senior (official reprimand of some type) which does not include demotion.

The tradition in the U.S. military (with a few exceptions such as temporary promotions) has been that as an officer rises in rank they either rise to the increasing standards involved or they are separated from the organization. The tradition is very important in that it allows an officer to stand on principle knowing that (as long as the action is not judged to be criminal by a jury of fellow officers), the worst that can happen to him is reprimand and/or dismissal. Protecting an officer's ability and duty to stand on principle is key and from an ethical, professional and leadership perspective it is indispensible and irreplaceable.

The precedent of using demotion (however just, generous or voluntary) of a commissioned officer of the United States is a dangerous precedent indeed. It brings the specter of politicization and innumerable forms of undue influence.

Having a job which requires "..reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities..." is not for wimps. Meet at least the ethical requirement and the Navy's need or get gone – completely gone – no golden parachute.

Jim Murphy said...

Anon @10:51 - I agree with your statement "get gone - completely gone."

I believe from reading previous similar cases that the services have the option of retiring the officer in the last grade during which he/she performed satisfactorily. In this case, the officer was 'punished' for actions taken as a CAPT, and assuming there was no evidence of similar behavior earlier in his career, he was retired as a CDR. I presume that was seen as a much easier avenue to pursue than trying him at Court Martial...but certainly a a much better deal for the officer in question.

Anonymous said...

Depending on the individual circumstances, a commissioned officer retires at the last permanent grade in which he/she completed honorable service. BGEN Karpinsky was allowed to retire as a colonel after Abu Ghraib. The 4 star from AFRICOM retired as a 3 star. RADM Sestak served as a VADM and retired a 2 star. Many many examples.