WASHINGTON – Leadership Fort Wayne has come to the defense of the commander of the city's Air National Guard base, who has been accused by an employee of misusing public funds.
The unidentified worker filed a complaint with the Guard alleging that Col. David Augustine had misappropriated more than $233,000, according to a Thursday evening report by WANE-TV. The station said the sum includes a $3,500 donation to Leadership Fort Wayne.
Leadership Fort Wayne, a civic engagement program, disputed both the amount claimed in the report and the nature of the expense.
“We are proud to say that for the first time in LFW's 32 year history we had two individuals from the 122nd Fighter Wing participate in the 2014 signature adult Leadership Fort Wayne program,” the group said Friday in a statement.
“The Leadership Fort Wayne Board of Directors approved a 50 percent tuition remission as a means of honoring the service of the men and women who serve our country and community through the Air National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing.”
The total cost for the air base came to $2,000 for the 10-month program, Leadership Fort Wayne said. The statement added that the leadership class expects participants to become “more engaged, capable and productive citizens and employees.”
“The individuals who work and serve at the 122nd are our friends, neighbors and community leaders who serve in many leadership capacities and we look forward to having the 122nd represented in the 2015 LFW Class,” the statement said.
The Indiana National Guard confirmed Thursday to The Journal Gazette that the complaint against Augustine, made in late April, is being investigated by a Guard officer from another state after consultations between the Indiana Guard and National Guard Bureau officials in Washington. Neither an Indiana Guard spokeswoman nor Augustine would comment on the allegations.
The Leadership Fort Wayne expenditure was apparently the smallest that Augustine is accused of misappropriating, according to WANE, which cited records obtained from the Guard. Other expenses described by the local broadcaster included more than $100,000 for speech classes for Guard members, more than $50,000 for a neon sign, $50,000 for two holiday parties and $30,000 for renovating a personal office.