FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Colonel David Augustine has been cleared of wrongdoing after someone with the alias “Whistle-blower” accused him of misusing taxpayer money and resources at the 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne.
In a press conference on Wednesday, General R. Martin Umbarger announced that the allegations against Col. Augustine were not substantiated. The investigation was led by a general from another state who Gen. Umbarger said did not know Col. Augustine.
Augustine was accused of the following and found to have done nothing illegal:
Spending more than $50,000 for a neon sign
Spending more than $100,000 for speech classes for airmen (something which is not mandated by the military)
Donating $3,500 of taxpayers’ money to Leadership Fort Wayne
Spending an unknown amount to hold military seminars at downtown Fort Wayne hotels
Using government funds to fly an artist from England to Fort Wayne to paint pictures of the base (pictures which he’s accused of selling and profiting from)
Spending $50,000 on holiday parties in 2011 and 2012
$30,000+ to renovate his personal office
Using A-10s as his personal taxi
The accuser also claimed Augustine had been ordered not to fly for medical reasons, even thought as commander of the 122nd he must be able to fly.
“Commanders must make difficult choices in fulfilling these requirements,” Gen. Umbarger said on Wednesday. “And there will always be some who disagree with those choices. Disagreement alone does not make a decision wrong or illegal.”
The investigation into the allegations found that much of what Col. Augustine had been accused of was actually legal. The $50,000 to install an LED sign on base was found to be perfectly legal and in fact, common to have on bases.
The more than $100,000 spent on speech classes, leadership development, and military seminars for airmen was within the right for a commander to spend, the investigation found.
Col. Augustine was also accused of flying a painter from England to Fort Wayne to paint pictures of the base. This was actually a part of an Air Force program that sold replica paintings of the base to raise money for a commanders fund. Col. Augustine does not have control over this fund, which is used to purchase gifts for retirements and funerals.
Spending thousands of dollars on holiday parties and renovations for headquarters on base was also something investigators looked into. Investigators determined this was legal and a common practice of base commanders.
It was determined that Augustine never used an A-10 as his personal taxi and was never grounded from flying.