PITTSBURGH — A retired vice commander of an Air National Guard unit at Pittsburgh International Airport will spend three years on probation, including a year on house arrest, for creating a no-show military job for a civilian contractor.
The retired colonel, Gerard Mangis, 61, of Shaler, was spared at least two years' prisons sought by federal prosecutors because of his otherwise "exemplary life," a judge ruled.
Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond also said prison wouldn't be fair because another federal judge sentenced Mangis' co-conspirator, Robert St. Clair, to just two years' probation, and because character witnesses testified Mangis' crimes were an aberration for a church-going family man who is involved in the Big Brothers organization and other charities.
Mangis pleaded guilty in July to creating the no-show technical sergeant's job for St. Clair who, in turn, helped Mangis receive additional pay for days he didn't work.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Melucci argued that Mangis received illegal pay for 272 days between 2006 and 2011, when he resigned from the 171st Air Refueling Wing after an internal investigation found him to have committed conduct unbecoming an officer. The sides agreed that pay was worth between $30,000 and $70,000, but the judge must still determine an exact amount, which Mangis must repay to the government.
"Did he do wrong? Yes, there is no doubt," defense attorney Charles Porter Jr. told the judge. "But this was not a man who ran amok and did whatever he wanted to the detriment of the government."
After the sentencing, Porter told The Associated Press that Melucci "greatly overstated" the amount of illegal pay Mangis received. And though Mangis was clearly wrong to help create the no-show job, others at the base — Porter wouldn't say who — had to be involved because Mangis didn't have the authority to create such a job by himself.
That happened in 2002, long before Mangis was vice commander. And even in that position, "Gerard Mangis could not do these things all by himself," Porter said.
William Flynn, the former adjutant general who headed the Pennsylvania National Guard until he retired in 2004, agreed during his testimony as a character witness. He insisted Mangis couldn't have created the no-show job on his own.
St. Clair, of Bel Air, Maryland, was sentenced in September after pleading guilty and cooperating with the Mangis investigation. He worked for the National Guard Bureau at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where he issued paid workdays to Air National Guard units nationwide.
In 2002, St. Clair encountered unspecified financial problems that jeopardized his ability to maintain a national security clearance and turned to his friend, Mangis, for help.
Mangis created the fake job so the 350-pound St. Clair, who couldn't physically perform the duties of a technical sergeant, would appear to be an enlisted member of the 171st and receive military pay and benefits, Melucci said.