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Air Guard commander spending investigated

Augustine

The commander of Fort Wayne’s Air National Guard base is under investigation for how he spends public funds.

An investigation of Col. David Augustine by the National Guard Bureau began Tuesday, according to Lt. Col. Cathy Van Bree, public affairs officer for the Indiana National Guard.

An unidentified person working at the 122nd Fighter Wing reportedly filed a formal complaint accusing Augustine of “carelessly spending tax dollars” exceeding $233,000.

Van Bree declined to identify the terminology of the complaint, such as whether Augustine is accused of misusing funds.

“I can’t comment until the investigation is complete,” Augustine said Thursday night in an email to The Journal Gazette.

Van Bree said in a statement that a National Guard officer from another state was selected “as an impartial third-party investigating officer” after consultations with the National Guard Bureau’s staff judge advocate and inspector general in Washington, D.C.

According to WANE-TV, which first reported the probe Thursday night, the complaint claimed Augustine spent more than $100,000 in public funds for speech classes for Air Guard members, more than $50,000 for a neon sign, $50,000 for two holiday parties, $30,000 to renovate a personal office, $3,500 for the civic engagement program Leadership Fort Wayne and an unknown sum for military seminars at hotels.

The complaint also alleged that Augustine used A-10 combat jets flown at the base “as his personal taxi,” WANE reported, and that he commissioned and sold paintings of the Ferguson Road complex.

Van Bree said the complaint was made April 28.

“The goal is always to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation with an emphasis on evidence,” she wrote in her email. “Given the number and variety of allegations in this instance, it will take some time to complete the investigation, conduct required legal reviews, and allow the chain of command the necessary time to determine appropriate responses.”

Augustine assumed command of the 122nd Fighter Wing in 2011. He previously was vice commander of Air Guard fighter wings in Battle Creek and Mount Clemens, Michigan. Augustine also was a combat veteran, flying 24 missions in the Iraq war, according to his biography at the 122nd Fighter Wing website.

Augustine has had a public profile in Fort Wayne. He resisted Pentagon efforts to yank the squadron of A-10 “Warthogs” from the base, touted the addition of the Starbase academy for fifth-graders, began the work that produced an air show in 2012 and oversaw the development of the Baer Field Heritage Air Park, where aircraft flown by the fighter wing since its 1946 inception are on display.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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