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No. 2 US nuclear commander fired in gambling investigation

Vice Adm. Tim Giardina in a 2011 photo provided by the U.S. Navy. U.S. Navy

The Navy admiral who was second in command of U.S. nuclear forces has been fired in a gambling investigation, military officials said Wednesday.

Vice Adm. Tim Giardina was demoted from three-star rank to two stars and will be reassigned from his position as deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, the World-Herald of Omaha, Neb., reported. STRATCOM, the command that oversees all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces, is headquartered near Omaha.

The Associated Press quoted the Navy's top spokesman, Rear Adm. John Kirby, as confirming the demotion.

NBC News reported in late September that Giardina, 57, was suspended Sept. 3 pending the outcome of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation into Giardina's alleged gambling activities. 

While sailors are allowed to gamble, Giardina's activities went beyond just gambling, officials told NBC News at the time, without going into specifics.

The World-Herald on Wednesday quoted Matthew Wilber, the county attorney in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, as saying Giardina is believed to have used at least $1,500 in fake gambling chips while playing poker at a casino in Council Bluffs in June. Casino employees alerted the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, which notified STRATCOM, Wilber said.

Wilber's office was closed Wednesday evening and didn't answer a call seeking comment.

At the time of Giardina's suspension, Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, STRATCOM's commander, recommended his dismissal from the position, the World-Herald reported. President Barack Obama accepted the recommendation Tuesday, it said.

Military officials told NBC News last month that there was no reason to believe that Giardina's activities caused any security concerns or affected his role at STRATCOM.

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