Customs director faces suspension for poor conduct
Stars and Stripes June 3, 2007
The head of U.S. Army Europe’s customs directorate was given a 30-day unpaid suspension for taking more than $72,000 in housing allowance to which he was not entitled.
William L. Johnson, 57, who was promoted during the two-year investigation, was declared by Mannheim military police to have committed larceny and fraud to illegally receive $72,805.85, according to a police report.
But after a further investigation led by the U.S. Army Europe’s provost marshal office, for whom Johnson works, Johnson was punished for “conduct unbecoming a federal employee.”
“The employee was investigated for fraud, but was not ultimately charged with fraud, which would require an element of intent,” according to an e-mailed statement from the USAREUR public affairs office.
Johnson also is being made to pay back the money, according to Lt. Col. Carol McKinney, chief of the office’s law enforcement branch. McKinney said Johnson is an excellent employee and said the case, in which overpayments were collected over 10 years, was complicated and bureaucratic.
Johnson and his wife, Hannelore, each have or had residences in Germany, according to the police report. Hannelore Johnson, 63, also was accused in the police report of committing fraud.
When first asked about the Johnson case, the USAREUR public affairs office in Heidelberg stated in an e-mail:
“Among other factors in his case, the administrative investigation apparently yielded evidence that the employee had in fact timely approached finance personnel regarding a suspected overpayment, rather than attempting to conceal it.
“This, however, did not completely exonerate him.”
In a later e-mailed response, McKinney wrote that the discrepancy was discovered by a “civilian personnel audit.”
McKinney declined to discuss what Johnson did wrong because of the complexity of the case, but said that a copy of an Army Regulation 15-6 investigation would be provided to Stars and Stripes that would explain the wrongdoing.
“I would move very slowly when moving on my personal matters,” Johnson said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a private matter. Very complex, very private.”
According to the USAREUR public affairs office, Johnson was promoted one year ago at the Customs office from a General Schedule 12 job to his current GS-13 position as director of USAREUR’s Europe Customs Executive Agency, a division of the provost marshal’s office.
The Customs office oversees the legal importing and exporting of personal goods by military personnel.