No. 2 Nuclear Commander Linked to Counterfeit Poker Chips

We wrote last year about how the U.S. Strategic Command’s No. 2 commander of America’s nuclear arsenal had been involved in a gambling incident involving counterfeit poker chips at an Iowa casino.

Now his DNA has been found on the adhesive side of stickers used to convert $1 poker chips into $500 chips, which suggests he counterfeited his own poker chips.

You might wonder why attorneys who specialize in security clearance law are addressing this news story. It’s because gambling that becomes a problem can jeopardize security clearance. Gambling is one of the concerns mentioned in Guideline F (Financial Considerations) of the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.

“The Department of State is of the opinion that people who lack good judgment, have poor self-control and get themselves into positions where they have amassed a large gambling debt might be at increased risk of engaging in illegal activities to generate much-needed funds,” says security clearance attorney Catie Young. “One example would be selling military secrets.”

Because of his rank, position and security clearance, Giardina was privy to highly sensitive national security secrets. While holding a security clearance doesn’t prevent one from legally gambling, those who hold security clearance must report if they rack up a significant amount of debt, the command’s chief spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze told ABC News in November.

An investigation into Giardina has found he was a habitual poker player who spent about 15 hours per week at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs. He had become such a fixture at the casino, he was referred to as “Navy Tim” by many.

This gambling revelation has not boded well for Giardina’s military career. Military officials removed him from his position in 2013, demoted him to a two-star general and some reports said he was stripped of his security clearance after being reassigned to Washington, D.C.

In May he was found guilty in a military investigation of “conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman,” according to a November article published in The Guardian.

While the Giardina investigation serves as a textbook example of why a gambling problem might cause a person’s security clearance to be revoked or prevent an applicant from obtaining security clearance, keep in mind that a past gambling problem will not automatically prevent a person who seeks security clearance from getting it.

“As is the case with all of the Adjudicative Guidelines, there are mitigating circumstances to Guideline F,” Young says. “For example, if you were addicted to gambling 25 years ago, you sought treatment and you’ve never gambled since that likely won’t prevent you from getting clearance.”

Navigating through the security clearance application process can be complicated. We recommend that you meet with an attorney who specializes in this particular area of law, particularly if you have something in your past that you are concerned could come between you and your security clearance approval.

Please call us today if you would like to schedule a consultation.