Federal agencies investigate Stripes' business operations
GRIESHEIM, Germany — More than a dozen agents from at least three federal agencies raided Stars and Stripes’ European headquarters Thursday.
Armed with a search warrant, agents from the investigative arm of the Department of Defense Inspector General and from the Air Force and Army criminal investigation commands arrived at the newspaper office at about 9 a.m. Thursday.
The agents spent the day poring through records and seizing at least 42 boxes of documents, as well as computer records. They also sequestered and interviewed several top administrative managers and employees in several departments.
Editorial employees were not questioned and the department was not searched.
Agents from the Inspector General’s office also visited Stripes’ headquarters in Washington, where they interviewed the publisher, Chief Operating Officer Max Lederer, and International Advertising Director Fred Benson.
“There is an ongoing investigation which involves the business operations of Stars and Stripes,” said publisher Tom Kelsch, who is based in Washington. “Stars and Stripes is not at liberty to comment in regards to this investigation at this time.”
Agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Army Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID, seized records from the European advertising, finance and printing departments. They also prevented employees from returning to their offices unescorted and sent some workers home.
No arrests were made.
Agents on the scene refused to comment, referring inquiries to lead agent Stan Newell. Newell referred questions to Steve Anthony, spokesman at DOD IG headquarters in Washington.
Neither Anthony nor John Crane, the agency’s chief spokesman, returned calls by Stripes’ deadline. Officials at the investigating agencies also deferred to the Inspector General’s office.
“I have no knowledge of the investigation,” said Marc Raimondi, spokesman at Army Criminal Investigation Command headquarters at Fort Belvoir, Va.
Stars and Stripes is part of the Department of Defense, falling under the American Forces Information Service. It has offices in Washington, Tokyo and Griesheim, Germany, and prints European, Pacific and Middle East editions of Stripes.
The Defense Criminal Investigative Service typically investigates fraud in the Department of Defense, according to its Web site. OSI’s and CID’s primary responsibilities are criminal investigations and counterintelligence services.
— Pat Dickson contributed to this report from Washington.