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Ex-Navy Nuke Chief Timothy Giardina Guilty on Gambling Charges

Rear Adm. Timothy Giardina was found guilty of using three fake $500 chips and lying to an investigator.
Image: Tim Giardina
This image provided by the U.S. Navy shows Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina in a Nov. 11, 2011, photo. The U.S. strategic Command, the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear warfighting forces says it has suspended its No. 2 commander, Giardina, for unspecific reasons, and he is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.U.S. Navy via AP, file

A Navy admiral has been found guilty of using counterfeit gambling chips and lying to an investigator, the same charges that saw him fired as deputy of the nation's nuclear arsenal last fall.

Rear Adm. Timothy Giardina was found guilty on Monday under the Uniform Code of Military Justice on two counts of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman," a statement by the U.S. Navy said.

He failed to turn in and then used three fake $500 gambling chips he claimed to have found at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in June last year. The Associated Press reported the exact details of the charges, the second of which said he lied to an investigator.

At the time of his suspension on Sept. 3, Giardina was the deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command in Omaha, Neb., which is responsible for the full arsenal of U.S. nuclear weapons.

On Oct. 9 he was relieved of his duties — a move exceedingly rare in the history of U.S. nuclear weapons command, according to the AP.

He accepted the non-judicial punishment Monday and chose not to challenge it by requesting a court martial. When he was removed from his three-star position at Strategic Command, Giardina was given a staff officer’s job in Washington and reverted to two-star rank.

"The Navy remains committed to holding all personnel, regardless of rank, to the highest standards," spokeswoman Capt. Dawn Cutler said in a brief statement.

Giardina is the second high-ranking nuclear weapons official to be fired in recent months. Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, former commander of the Air Force’s arsenal of ballistic missiles, was relieved of his duties in October after a trip to Russia in which he drank too much, had "associations" with foreign women and made rude comments to his hosts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Alexander Smith