The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 5, 2014

Pa. colonel, Md. man charged in Guard no-show scam

PITTSBURGH — A colonel retired from an Air National Guard unit at Pittsburgh International Airport has been arrested on charges he created a no-show military job for a civilian employee in Maryland who, in turn, helped the officer receive additional pay for days he didn’t work.

Col. Gerard Mangis retired from the 171st Air Refueling Wing in September 2011 after 31 years at the facility. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported in January that Air Force officials turned over the results of an internal investigation to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh.

On Wednesday, federal prosecutors unsealed a grand jury indictment charging the 60-year-old Mangis with conspiracy, honest services fraud, false claims against the United States and theft of government property. Prosecutors scheduled a news conference for Wednesday afternoon, immediately after Mangis was to make his initial appearance before a federal magistrate.

Mangis’ defense attorney, Charles Porter Jr., of Pittsburgh, did not immediately return a call for comment.

The court papers don’t spell out how much money the Air Force lost. The civilian employee, 50-year-old Robert St. Clair, of Bel Air, Md., worked for the National Guard Bureau at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, according to separate charges of conspiracy, theft of government property and false claims against the United States.

Court records don’t list an attorney for St. Clair, who didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment left on his home voice mail.

According to the indictment, Mangis became friends with St. Clair, who was responsible for issuing workdays to Air National Guard units nationwide. Workdays are eight-hour periods assigned to Guard personnel, who are paid for that time.

In 2002, St. Clair encountered unspecified “personal financial problems which jeopardized his ability to maintain a national security clearance” he needed to keep his job.

To help out his friend, Mangis created a fake, no-show job that made it appear St. Clair was an enlisted member at the 171st, which entitled St. Clair to military pay and benefits, including “commissary benefits, access to military facilities, and ‘GI Bill’ benefits for his near college-aged children,” the indictment said. All this occurred even though Mangis knew St. Clair – who weighed more than 300 pounds – “was not physically fit to become an enlisted member,” according to the indictment.

In return, Mangis requested extra workdays from St. Clair that Mangis “used to claim excessive active and inactive duty military pay,” according to prosecutors.

Mangis’ salary as vice commander was about $128,000, and the indictment doesn’t say how much extra pay prosecutors believe he illegally received.

To keep the scheme afloat, prosecutors said, Mangis had subordinates fudge paperwork relating to his extra pay and make it appear his friend was completing his duties at the Pittsburgh-area base, even though St. Clair never physically worked there.

Further, Mangis had his subordinates “run personal errands for him such as paying bills, changing the oil in his personal vehicle, installing a basketball hoop at his home, and even repairing a toilet at his home, all during their military or civilian duty time,” the indictment said.

 

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