Former Air Force fire chief pleads guilty

A former top Air Force official pleaded guilty this month to one count of wire fraud and a violation of the Procurement Integrity Act, the Justice Department announced.

Under a plea agreement, James E. Podolske Jr., of Panama City, Fla., admitted that while serving as chief of Air Force Fire Services, he knowingly disclosed Defense Department contract bid information to give a competitive advantage to a corporate defense contractor, DOJ said.

Podolske also acknowledged that while serving in that role between 2009 and 2013, he used his position to defraud about 25 business entities or individuals out of tens of thousands of dollars per year intended for charity, according to his plea agreement.

During that time, the former Air Force official organized an awards banquet and charity golf outing to coincide with an International Association of Fire Chiefs conference. Podolske admitted that he solicited donations for the outing from contractors and subcontractors who wanted to do business with the Air Force and Department of Defense. Podolske forwarded some of the donations to charities, and deposited others in his personal bank account, DOJ said.

The former official—who resigned as fire chief Oct. 21—admitted using the donations to pay off credit card debt, and to pay for vacations and gambling in casinos, DOJ said.

Podolske faces a sentence of up to 25 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and three years of supervised release, according to DOJ.

Reader comments

Sun, Apr 9, 2017

This is probably the tip of the iceberg. They should investigate his peers and superiors. This program has been out of control for decades.

Mon, Feb 13, 2017

Has this lying, disgraceful thief been sentenced yet? He really needs a lengthy sentence in prison for the disgrace he's brought on our badge and family.

Wed, Nov 30, 2016 Jenanne Michigan

What is this crazy world coming to! Aren't there ANY HONEST HARD- WORKING BIG SHOTS OUT THERE THESE DAYS! What happened to honesty and INTEGRITY?

Wed, Nov 30, 2016

He should get the max.

Wed, Nov 30, 2016 Warren, MI

Just because one higher-up person in a position of influence violated the law, PLEASE don't increase our Ethics training, et al, on us law-abiding lowly workers.

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Edward A. Zurndorfer Certified Financial Planner
Mike Causey Columnist
Tom Fox VP for Leadership and Innovation, Partnership for Public Service
Mathew B. Tully Legal Analyst

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