updated 10/3/2007 7:09:08 PM ET 2007-10-03T23:09:08

The Civil Air Patrol has removed its national commander after investigating complaints that another patrol member took Air Force tests for him.

Maj. Gen. Antonio J. Pineda denied that anyone took tests for him and said Wednesday that he never got to tell his side to the CAP’s Board of Governors. “After being a volunteer in this organization for 20 years, this is how they pay me back,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Pineda was suspended two months ago after another CAP member said he took tests for Pineda at the U.S. Air Force Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery in 2002 and 2003. The disputed tests were for six courses with topics including national security, strategy and war, and leadership and command.

Pineda was replaced by the volunteer organization’s first female leader, Vice Commander Brig. Gen. Amy S. Courter of South Lyon, Mich.

Courter, a board member, said the CAP inspector general’s findings about the tests prompted the decision Tuesday night to change leadership. Although Pineda did not appear before the board, his denials were included in the inspector general’s report, she said.

Pineda is a retired law enforcement officer from Plantation, Fla.

The investigation began after Lt. Col. Raymond Hayden of Tamarac, Fla., complained that Pineda had assigned him to take the tests.

Hayden, who is no longer active in CAP, said he spent three hours with investigators and was not surprised by Pineda’s removal because it wasn’t a case of one person’s word against another’s. “There had been other people who knew,” he said.

The Civil Air Patrol, a federally funded auxiliary of the Air Force, is based at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. It has more than 55,000 volunteer members nationwide and is best known for search and rescue missions.

Courter, 45, will serve as interim commander until the board meets in August 2008 to select a commander. She said she plans to seek that position.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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