America’s “No.2 Nuke Commander” Suspended From Duty

Not arrested or charged, but suspension from such a high-profile job seems a reasonable precaution. The chap sitting in that seat can do without any distractions.

No. 2 nuke commander suspended amid casino probe

WASHINGTON — The No. 2 officer at the military command in charge of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces is suspected in a case involving counterfeit gambling chips at a western Iowa casino and has been suspended from his duties, officials said.

Vice Adm. Timothy Giardina
U.S. Navy

Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina has not been arrested or charged, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation special agent David Dales said Saturday. The state investigation is ongoing.

Giardina, deputy commander at U.S. Strategic Command, was suspended on Sept. 3 and is under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a Strategic Command spokeswoman said.

The highly unusual action against a high-ranking officer at Strategic Command was made more than three weeks ago but not publicly announced at that time. The command is located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb.

Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler, who heads Strategic Command, suspended Giardina, according to the command’s top spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze. Giardina is still assigned to the command but is prohibited from performing duties related to nuclear weapons and other issues requiring a security clearance, she said.

Kehler has recommended to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Giardina be reassigned, Kunze said. Giardina has been the deputy commander of Strategic Command since December 2011. He is a career submarine officer and prior to starting his assignment there was the deputy commander and chief of staff at U.S. Pacific Fleet.

DCI agents stationed at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, discovered the counterfeit chips, Dales said. He would not say when the discovery was made or how much in counterfeit chips was found, only that “it was a significant monetary amount.”

Council Bluffs is located across the Missouri River from Omaha.

“We were able to detect this one pretty quickly and jump on it,” Dales said. He declined to give specifics on how authorities determined that casino chips had been counterfeited or how Giardina might have been involved.

Strategic Command oversees the military’s nuclear fighter units, including the Navy’s nuclear-armed submarines and the Air Force’s nuclear bombers and nuclear land-based missiles.

Kunze said Strategic Command did not announce the suspension because Giardina remains under investigation and action on Kehler’s recommendation that Giardina be reassigned is pending. The suspension was first reported by the Omaha World-Herald.

Kunze said a law enforcement investigation of Giardina began June 16. Kehler became aware of this on July 16, and the following day he asked the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to begin a probe.

The suspension is yet another blow to the military’s nuclear establishment. Last spring the nuclear missile unit at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., pulled 17 launch control officers off duty after a problematic inspection and later relieved of duty the officer in charge of training and proficiency.

In August a nuclear missile unit at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., failed a nuclear safety and security inspection; nine days later an officer in charge of the unit’s security forces was relieved of duty.

Unrelibale counterfeit semiconductors for use on nuclear submarines

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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Massachusetts Man Charged with Selling Counterfeit Semiconductors Intended for Use on Nuclear Submarines

Peter Picone, 40, of Methuen, Mass., has been charged with importing counterfeit semiconductors from China for sale in the United States.

The charges were announced today by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly; Special Agent in Charge Bruce Foucart of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Boston; Acting Special Agent in Charge of Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Northeast Field Office Craig W. Rupert; and Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Northeast Field Office Cheryl A. DiPrizio.

The eight-count indictment charges Picone with conspiring to traffic in counterfeit goods, conspiring to traffic in counterfeit military goods, trafficking in counterfeit goods, conspiring to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiring to commit money laundering. The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in New Haven on June 25, 2013, and was unsealed today.

The indictment charges that from February 2007 through April 2012, Picone, through two companies he owned and operated, Tytronix Inc. and Epic International Electronics, purchased counterfeit semiconductors from sources in Hong Kong and China. According to the indictment, Picone made false representations about the semiconductors and sold them to customers throughout the United States, including companies believed by Picone to be defense contractors in Connecticut and Florida. Certain semiconductors sold by Picone were intended for use on nuclear submarines.

“By allegedly purchasing and reselling counterfeit semiconductors for military applications, Peter Picone put personal gain above the safety and well-being of dedicated U.S. servicemen and women,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “As charged in the indictment, Picone went to great lengths to conceal the true origin of counterfeit semiconductors in order to sell the devices as seemingly legitimate and reliable components for use in nuclear submarines and other complex machinery. The charges unsealed today demonstrate our steadfast commitment to working with our law enforcement partners to prosecute counterfeiters and others who risk the security of the men and women of the U.S. military.”

“Counterfeit semiconductors pose a serious health and safety risk to consumers and end-users, and an even greater threat to the safety of the men and women of our armed services when they are sold for use in the military,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Daly. “We will prosecute these types of cases to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Today’s charges demonstrate the continued commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our peer agencies to protect the Department of Defense’s supply chain from being infiltrated and compromised with inferior components,” said DCIS Northeast Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge Rupert. “Safeguarding our warfighters and ensuring their equipment functions at the absolute highest levels is vital to our nation’s defense and readiness. Detecting and dismantling the operations of suppliers who choose to make a profit by supplying counterfeit or inferior products is a DCIS priority. I applaud the agents and prosecutors who worked tirelessly to bring about this result.”

“Trafficking in counterfeit sensitive technologies is an extremely dangerous practice on several fronts. Not only are there significant risks associated with the transportation of this faulty equipment, but our own American servicemembers are also put in harm’s way when they encounter substandard equipment,” said ICE-HSI Special Agent in Charge Foucart. “One of HSI’s top enforcement priorities is protecting the integrity of U.S. military products and other sensitive technology.”

“Counterfeit semiconductors represent a serious threat to the safety of our military service members and raise national security concerns,” said NCIS Special Agent in Charge DiPrizio. “The introduction of defective equipment into the military supply chain can result in product failure, property damage and even serious bodily injury, including death. Some of these counterfeit devices can also be preprogrammed with malicious code and enable computer network intrusion. NCIS has worked closely with our law enforcement partners at DCIS and ICE-HSI in identifying unscrupulous suppliers and bringing them to justice.”

Picone was arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna F. Martinez of the District of Connecticut in Hartford, Conn., and was released on bond. Trial is scheduled for Sept. 9, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford.

If convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods, Picone faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. If convicted of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit military goods, Picone faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison. If convicted of trafficking in counterfeit goods, Picone faces a maximum term of 10 years in prison. If convicted of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, or wire fraud, Picone faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. If convicted of conspiracy to commit money laundering, Picone faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

The indictment also seeks forfeiture of proceeds from illicit trafficking in counterfeit goods and wire fraud as well as the seizure of the goods and any property involved in the money laundering conspiracy.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case was jointly investigated by HSI, DCIS and NCIS. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward Chang of the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorneys Kendra Ervin and Carol Sipperly of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Trial Attorney Kristen M. Warden of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section is assisting with the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The enforcement action announced today is one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation, and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to

Criminal Division