Chips Ahoy: US Admiral Giardina Demoted Over Counterfeit Chips Scandal

Posted on: October 11, 2013, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: October 11, 2013, 02:00h.

Former Vice-Admiral Tim Giardiana’s naval career may be as sunk as this naval destroyer following allegations of counterfeit gambling in an Iowa casino. (Image source:

It’s a relief, but not in a good way.

For the first time in United States history, an American Navy admiral has been relieved of his current duties, and seen his rank fall from Vice to two-star admiral, and will be “reassigned,” hopefully not to the Somalian pirate vessels. Somehow the “vice” designation was more appropriate, we think, given the reason for this chap’s fall from grace.

Stormy Seas Ahead

Yup, the now former Vice-Admiral Tim Giardiana is being investigated for illicit gambling; this naughty boy is accused of using counterfeit chips “in a significant monetary amount” at an Iowa casino (he’s been based in nearby Nebraska as part of the U.S. Strategic Command, where he was, until this happened, second-in-command. Business must be slow if he had  time to whip up phony gambling apparatus).

Strategic Command, located at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska, oversees U.S. land-based nuclear missiles, as well as space operations governing military satellites.

All kidding aside, it’s a pretty big fall from grace for someone who was supposed to be watching America’s nuclear weapon systems. Top Navy spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby made the announcement of the demotion and reassignment of the troubled ex-commander.

Felony Level Play Involved

Giardina, whose entire life has been spent as a submarine officer, was suspended last month after the allegations of his Iowa casino wrongdoings at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa came to light. Exactly how he was caught, where the chips came from and the specific amounts involved have all been kept under wraps, as an investigation moves forward by the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service, but Special Agent David Dales of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation told the Associated Press that it wasn’t chump change.

“We were able to detect this one pretty quickly and jump on it,” he added.

The Horseshoe – a Caesars Entertainment property – did fess up to Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber that the game was poker and the counterfeit chips were at least $1,500 worth, and that the incident occurred back in June. We like to think if his entire life is going to be ruined, that he’s going down for more than $1,500, but the illicit activities bar is probably held pretty low when you’re in charge of something as sensitive as nuclear weapons, and we can’t say we think that’s a bad thing.

Not surprisingly, no one is saying whether Admiral Giardina’s actions might have in any way messed with any operations at Strategic Command or compromised national security, but we hope the end isn’t going to come because an action-hungry officer got a little too excited about his bankroll.

The boys in the nuclear division seem to be misbehaving quite a bit lately; just this past August, at Malstrom Air Force base in Montana, a nuclear missile unit failed a safety and security inspection – something you really don’t want in your nuclear weapons – which resulted in a senior security officer being relieved of his duties. And this past Spring, at Minot Air Force base in North Dakota, a total of 17 officers charged with maintaining nuclear missiles were sacked over safety violations as well.

On a criminal level, the military aside, agent Dales told the Omaha World-Herald this his office will not be pressing charges towards the Admiral at the state level. Dales said the decision was made because they concluded “there wasn’t any chance of him receiving anything other than deferred judgment”, based on Giardiana’s lack of priors and senior military status. Interpret that as the U.S. Strategic Command had a confab and said, “Drop it, please.” Probably too much sensitive information that could potentially be revealed if it all came to trial, is our extremely unprofessional opinion.

Mostly, we are ever-so-proud that we made it through this entire report without saying “any port in a storm” even one time.