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Feds: Scam cost Air Guard nearly $300K

Mar. 5, 2014 - 05:36PM   |  
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PITTSBURGH — A no-show job scheme involving a retired Air National Guard officer from Pennsylvania and a civilian contractor from Maryland has cost the Air National Guard nearly $300,000, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton’s remarks came after retired Col. Gerard Mangis, of Shaler Township, appeared before a federal magistrate in Pittsburgh.

Mangis is charged with helping Robert St. Clair, of Bel Air, Md., get a no-show job as a tech sergeant at the 171st Air Refueling Wing, a Guard unit based at Pittsburgh International Airport. In return, St. Clair, who worked for the National Guard Bureau at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, allegedly helped Mangis get paid for shifts he didn’t actually work.

“These two men engaged in a corrupt, mutually beneficial scheme for personal gain,” Hickton said.

Mangis, 60, retired from the 171st in September 2011 after 31 years. He was arrested Wednesday and released on bond after his court appearance. He and his attorney declined to comment.

Court records don’t list an attorney for St. Clair, who didn’t immediately return a message left on voice mail at his home. He must surrender to the court within a few weeks.

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

Mangis also 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.

Hickton said the investigation into those activities is continuing and more charges could be filed.

The grand jury indictment charged Mangis with conspiracy, honest services fraud, false claims against the United States and theft of government property. St. Clair is charged with conspiracy, theft of government property and false claims against the United States.

Court papers don’t spell out how much money the Air Force lost, and Hickton said only the amount was “approaching $300,000.”

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 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. At the time, Mangis knew St. Clair, who weighed more than 300 pounds, “was not physically fit to become an enlisted member,” the indictment said.

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

Mangis’ salary as vice commander was about $128,000. Hickton and the indictment didn’t specify how much extra pay Mangis illegally received.

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