Casino gambling is believed to have played a role in the suspension of the number two officer at United States Strategic Command, the military branch that oversees the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal. On Saturday, a Stratcom spokesperson confirmed an Omaha World Herald report that Vice Admiral Tim Giardina (pictured) had been suspended from his role as Stratcom’s second-in-command as of September 3. While the matter remains under investigation, Capt. Pamela Kunze stated that Stratcom commander Gen. Robert Kehler had sent a recommendation to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Giardina be reassigned from his post.
Details on what prompted Giardina’s downfall are sketchy, but the Associated Press reported that Giardina was caught up in some dodgy gambling activity at a Caesars Entertainment casino. Stratcom’s headquarters is located near Omaha, Nebraska, which is close to the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The casino is home to a stop on the World Series of Poker Circuit, and was the site where eventual 2013 WSOP-C National Champion Jonathan Hilton won his first live tournament event this April.
David Dales, special agent of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), said the probe into Giardina had begun in June after DCI agents detected the use of counterfeit gambling chips at the casino. Dales said the activity under investigation involved “a significant monetary amount” of chips, but declined to offer specifics as to Giardina’s role in their use. Stratcom was notified of the situation on July 16, which prompted Kehler to ask the Naval Criminal Investigation Service to open its own investigation.
Officials have stressed that there is no reason to suggest that the 56-year-old Giardina’s casino shenanigans in any way affected his military duties, although such a scenario would add an unwelcome dose of reality to the idea of a gambler ‘going nuclear’ following a bad beat or extended losing streak.