Indicted: Man who served as Chief of Air Force Fire Services accused of stealing money meant for charity

The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin has announced a federal indictment against a man from Florida, accused of stealing funds intended for charity while he was serving as Chief of Air Force Fire Services.

59-year-old James Podolske Jr. was charged with procurement fraud and wire fraud.

According to the indictment, in February of 2013, Podolske, while employed as an official with the United States Air Force, knowingly disclosed defense department contract bid or proposal information to give a competitive advantage to a corporate defense contractor identified in the indictment as “Company A.”

The indictment further alleges that between 2009 and 2013, Podolske used his position as Chief of Air Force Fire Services to defraud approximately 25 business entities or individuals out of over $133,000 intended for charity.

Podolske organized an awards banquet and “charity” golf outing to coincide with a conference sponsored by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Podolske is alleged to have actively solicited donations for his golf outing from contractors and subcontractors seeking to do business with the Air Force and Department of Defense, including several in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Some of the donations were forwarded to charities as intended. Many donations, however, were deposited in Podolske personal bank account.

He is alleged to have converted these charitable donations for his personal use to pay off credit card debt, pay for vacations, and for gambling at Gulf Shore casinos.

If convicted, Podolske faces up to 25 years imprisonment, $500,000 in fines, and three years of supervised release.