Former deputy head of U.S. Strategic Command Rear Admiral Timothy M. Giardina may have made his own counterfeit $500 poker chips with paint and stickers to feed a gambling habit that eventually saw him banned from an entire network of casinos, AP reported.
The admiral was fired last year as deputy commander of U.S. nuclear forces, but evidence of his possible role in manufacturing the counterfeit chips has not previously been revealed
According to a criminal investigative report, his DNA was found on the underside of an adhesive sticker used to alter genuine $1 poker chips to make them look like $500 chips.
The Navy did not disclose how extensively he gambled.
Timothy M. Giardina was a habitual poker player, spending a total of 1,096 hours – or an average of 15 hours per week – at the tables at the Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the 18 months before being caught using three phony chips in June 2013.
He was such a familiar figure at the casino, across the Missouri River from his office near Omaha, Nebraska, that some there knew him as “Navy Tim”.
A career submarine officer, Timothy Giardina is a 1979 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.
On July 18, Timothy Giardina was banned from both the Horseshoe and Harrah’s for 90 days, but he returned at least twice to play poker at the Horseshoe before the ban expired. The second time, in October, he was given a lifetime ban from all gambling establishments run by the Horseshoe’s owner, Caesar’s Entertainment Corp.
Six days after he received the lifetime Caesar’s ban, Tim Giardina was kicked out of the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, according to the NCIS records that gave no reason for that expulsion. That casino is not a Caesar’s property.
Timothy Giardina, who remains on the Navy payroll as a staff officer in Washington, was never charged with counterfeiting. Instead he was found guilty in May 2014 of two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer – lying to an investigator and passing fake gambling chips. He was given a written reprimand and ordered to forfeit $4,000 in pay.
The Navy chose not to pursue a court martial because they were uncertain they could get a conviction with the evidence they had, officials said.
In September 2013 Timothy Giardina was quietly suspended from his post at Strategic Command, which he had assumed in December 2011. One month later he was fired and reduced in rank from three-star to two-star admiral.
US Navy Vice-Admiral Tim Giardina, who oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons forces, has been sacked, a Navy spokesman has announced.
Tim Giardina, second-in-command of the US Strategic Command, is under investigation for illegal gambling activities.
He is accused of using counterfeit gambling chips in “a significant monetary amount” at an Iowa casino.
Tim Giardina was demoted to a two-star admiral and will be reassigned pending outcome of the inquiry.
On Wednesday, the Navy’s top spokesman Rear Adm John Kirby announced the removal of Vice-Admiral Tim Giardina as the deputy in charge of the US Strategic Command.
Tim Giardina, a career submarine officer, was suspended from duty on September 3 after the military launched an investigation into allegations he used counterfeit chips at a casino not far from his base in eastern Nebraska.
Vice-Admiral Tim Giardina, second-in-command of the US Strategic Command, is under investigation for illegal gambling activities
The case was referred to the US Naval Criminal Investigative Service after he first came to be suspected of the crime.
In September, Special Agent David Dales of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation told the Associated Press news agency “a significant monetary amount” was involved.
“We were able to detect this one pretty quickly and jump on it,” he added.
It is unknown whether Tim Giardina’s alleged actions at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, compromised national security or operations at Strategic Command.
Strategic Command, which oversees everything from America’s land-based nuclear missiles to space operations governing military satellites, is located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska.
Tim Giardina’s demotion follows several other incidents affecting the US military’s nuclear establishment.
In August, a nuclear missile unit at Malstrom Air Force base in Montana failed a safety and security inspection, after which a senior security officer was relieved of duty.
In May, it was reported that 17 officers in charge of maintaining nuclear missiles were sidelined over safety violations at Minot Air Force base in North Dakota.