A former Air Force fire chief pleaded guilty to stealing $100,000 meant for charity and blowing it on gambling expenses, vacations and personal debt.
This former fire chief, James E. Podolske Jr., also pleaded guilty to divulging information on a Department of Defense contract to give an advantage to a corporate contractor, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday.
The name of that corporate contractor is unknown.
The charges come in connection with Podolske’s involvement with the International Association of Fire Chiefs from 2009 to 2012. Podolske was tasked with planning awards banquets and golf excursions.
As part of his work, Podolske went around collecting donations intended for five charities: Toys for Tots, Parkland Foundation Burn Camp, Military Firefighters Heritage Foundation, The First Twenty and IAFC Scholarship Foundation.
While some donors wrote checks to the listed charities, others made them out directly to Podolske, who then passed along checks to charities but kept the ones with his name to himself, depositing them in his personal bank account.
Out of a total of $164,000 made out to Podolske but intended for charity, Podolske kept $133,000. He then used those funds to gamble at Gulf Shore casinos and pay off his credit card.
Some of the donations came from contractors interested in working for the Pentagon.
Numerous agencies were involved in investigating Podolske: the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigation Service and the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.
Now that he’s pleaded guilty, Podolske could spend up to 25 years in prison and face a fine of up to $50,000.
His sentencing will take place on Feb. 27, 2017.
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