THE NATIONAL GUARD
"DIRTY TRICKS" HANDBOOK
In our first installment of the handbook, [see related stories box at end of this article], we related how crooked personnel officials in the National Guard can undermine and prevent a qualified and deserving member, officer or enlisted, from being promoted. In this, part two, we'll show you how members who transfer between units are often stuck with "charges" for equipment they were never issued in the first place.
Of course, the money is clear profit for the criminals who pull this old stunt. Most of the gear that they falsely claim the member was issued but "failed to turn in" turns out to be stuff that is highly saleable in the civilian world. There's always a market for camping gear, shelter halves, tents, shovels, flashlights, compasses and canteens, to say nothing of dozens of other related items.
Most of those hit with the phony charges decide not to fight, but just "pay the tab" and move on. That's exactly what the corrupt full-timers expect. But once in a while, someone fights the unfair charges, and then things get very dicey indeed. This is the story of one such occasion.
CAUGHT IN A FORGERY AND USING THE WRONG DATE
For our illustration, we'll go back to a certain state Guard located on the Atlantic Coast run by a little fat man nicknamed "The Pillsbury Doughman." You remember him, the egomaniac with three chins and a big unlit cigar in his rat-like mouth.
It's the mid-1980's and a captain being transferred has just been informed he "owes" the Guard several hundred dollars for missing gear. Of course, the alleged equipment had never been issued in the first place, but there is the full-time E-8 pointing to the 0-3's signature saying: "You signed for it. You're responsible for it."
The officer, an investigative reporter in civilian life, was not easily fooled.
He quickly noted that the date penciled in by his "signature" was not a day that was a regularly-scheduled weekend drill. Checking his notebook, he found that he was not only 150 miles away from the armory on that date covering a news story, but his byline and the dateline of the story location was published in one of the New York daily newspapers.
Also, he suspected his signature had been forged.
"Sergeant, I'm ordering you to give me a sample of your handwriting - now!" the officer shouted. The weasel scribbled a few lines on a piece of paper.
"Next, I'm going to make photocopies of these documents and we'll see who pays what before this is over."
"It wouldn't be a good idea to cause trouble about this," the senior noncom sneered. "You don't want to be making enemies around here."
The captain said nothing and left.
NAILING DOWN A CRIMINAL ACT
Within two hours he was in the detective's bureau of a major city police department. His friends on the fraud and bunko squad could tell if the "signature" on the Guard document was a fake.
"This one's easy," said the veteran cop. "See, you can place this page up against a window pane and trace over a sample of your real signature. Note the hesitation, stop-and-start marks. This is a lousy job."
Armed with that information, and a copy of the newspaper putting him far away from the supply room on the date he supposedly "signed" for the "missing" gear, the officer angrily drove back to the Guard headquarters.
"So, you've decided to pay after all," the corrupt NCO smirked.
"No, I don't think so," said the captain. "You see, you did a very poor trace job, and the date you put beside my alleged signature doesn't match up to any drill date for me. You screwed up - big time. Now, I'm going to pick up the phone and call the State Police and have you arrested, you punk!"
The smirk disappeared from the AGR's face as he begged the 0-3 not to make the call.
"Wait just a minute, sir. Please, sir. I've got to take this in to the old man."
Emerging from the commander's office two minutes later, the first sergeant grinned sheepishly as he tore the paperwork up in front of the captain's eyes.
"You can forget about paying anything, sir. Seems we made a little mistake. I'm sure you'll let bygones be bygones. You don't owe a thing."
And with that, the NCO ceremoniously tossed the shreds of paper into a nearby waste can.
The officer gave him a look that said DON'T EVER MESS WITH ME AGAIN and departed.
BE CAREFUL OF $CAMS LIKE THIS
That, dear reader, is just one example of the many scams that a small number of crooked Guard members pull on the vast majority of honest men and women that make up National Guard rolls from Maine to California.
Recently on MilitaryCorruption.com, we exposed wrong-doing in the scandal-plagued Mississippi National Guard. CPT Matt Hassloch was unfairly tagged for a huge amount of "missing" equipment after he had assumed command of a unit and conducted a complete inventory.
Not signing the hand receipt and being the "fall guy" for the previous incompetent commander, alleged to be the girlfriend of one of his high-ranking tormentors, saved Hassloch from being stuck with a bill he couldn't pay and a possible "railroad" trip to the Leavenworth DB.
The old adage, "never sign anything unless you know full well what you are doing," is good advice. Especially if you're dealing with some of the sleazy characters who use the National Guard as a way to get rich.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Be watching for the next installment of the "NATIONAL GUARD "DIRTY TRICKS" HANDBOOK coming soon. And be sure to e-mail us at email@example.com with your stories of cover-ups and corruption in various state Guards, especially New Jersey. Thank you for making us the fastest-growing military website in the world, closing in on two million HITS a month. We couldn't have done it without you.]