WASHINGTON – A general who initially escaped sanction for living rent-free in the home of a defense contractor after the Pentagon’s inspector general cleared him is under criminal investigation, USA TODAY has learned.
Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael Bobeck was fired in 2016 but military criminal investigators have been investigating him, including examining his emails, for at least a year, according to an official familiar with the case but unable to speak about it publicly.
Bobeck’s Army lawyer, Lt. Col. Jeremy Larchick, said he does not typically comment on criminal investigations. Bobeck was not available for comment.
Some of Bobeck’s emails, which were obtained by USA TODAY, show that he was made aware that Sikorsky, the maker of the Black Hawk, the Army’s workhorse transport helicopter, was interested in discussions between the Army and National Guard on how to divide the fleet of helicopters. The emails date to 2015 when Sikorsky and the National Guard were pushing the Pentagon to buy more Black Hawks.
Before his promotion to general and a post on the Joint Staff, Bobeck had held positions with the National Guard Bureau that saw him responsible for its aviation units across the country. Bobeck is also a pilot.
In 2016, Bobeck was fired from his post on the Joint Staff for having an extramarital affair, a violation of military law. At the time, USA TODAY reported that Bobeck had also lived rent-free in the home of a defense contractor. That prompted Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., to ask the Pentagon inspector general to examine Bobeck’s relationship with Peduzzi Associates, Ltd., a business consulting firm with offices near the Pentagon.
The inspector general determined that the gift of housing was acceptable because Bobeck had a longstanding relationship with an executive at the firm.
However, the emails Bobeck received from Peduzzi and Sikorsky triggered renewed interest by Pentagon criminal investigators, according to the first official and another Defense official familiar with the case but not authorized to speak publicly about it.
Spokesmen for Peduzzi and Sikorsky were not available for comment.
“This case raises a lot of concerns and always deserved more attention,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a good-government watchdog group. “The reports that Brig. Gen. Bobeck received emails from contractors involving Black Hawk helicopters should trigger an ethics review to determine if he was influenced in his government responsibilities and violated the public trust.”
Bobeck was removed from his post in September 2016. The punishment for proven extramarital affairs is often a letter of reprimand, which most often kills an officer’s career. But the Army has not yet finalized Bobeck’s punishment, which prevents him from receiving a determination on the rank at which he will retire. The highest ranks earn the highest pensions.