Two airmen sentenced for wrongful charges on government credit cards
May 19, 2006
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Two airmen were sentenced in separate trials here Wednesday for putting thousands of dollars in wrongful charges on their government credit cards, officials said.
Senior Airman Duane Jones of the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron was sentenced to reduction to the lowest military pay grade, E-1, and a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force. Jones, 33, had been in the Air Force six years.
A four-member jury found Jones guilty of putting $8,400 in unauthorized charges on his government travel card between January and December 2005.
Staff Sgt. Michael D. Glover of the 51st Communications Squadron received a court reprimand after pleading guilty to putting $4,200 in unauthorized charges on his government travel card between May 2005 and this February.
Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Dillow, military judge for the Pacific Circuit, presided in both trials. He’s stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
Both airmen were apprehended after routine monitoring of government travel card charges within their units, said Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Meador, the staff judge advocate for Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing.
Jones used the government travel card as if it were a personal credit card for a range of charges including cash advances, and in one instance, purchase of airline tickets for personal, not official, travel, Meador said.
Prosecutors charged Jones with failure to obey a lawful general regulation, dishonorably failing to pay a just debt and not maintaining sufficient funds for pay-by-phone authorization.
Jones pleaded not guilty and asked for a jury trial. The jury consisted of two captains, a senior master sergeant and a master sergeant.
Jones, prosecutors said, used two accounts to carry out the card scam, one for his government travel card with the Bank of America, the other with the Armed Forces Bank at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
He would phone Bank of America and say he wanted to pay a charge using funds in his Armed Forces Bank account. Once he’d given the clerk the needed account information, Bank of America would mark its records to show he’d paid by phone.
But within days, the Armed Forces Bank would notify Bank of America that Jones had insufficient funds to cover the charge.
“He was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul but never at any one time did he have enough in any one account to pay off in full,” Meador said.
Jones also piled up penalty charges — late fees from Bank of America and insufficient-funds charges from Armed Forces Bank — on false payments of $142,000. The amount he ultimately owed on items put wrongfully on his government travel card totaled $8,400.
And in its case against Glover, prosecutors said he ran up 38 unauthorized charges. Unlike Jones, Glover paid back each charge on time.
Glover opted to be tried by judge alone and pleaded guilty.