Admiral denies role in counterfeiting casino chips
WASHINGTON — An admiral linked by Navy investigators to counterfeit casino chips denied Sunday that he played any role in making them.
Investigation records say his DNA was found on the underside of an adhesive sticker used to alter one of the phony chips, but previously undisclosed emails indicate that the presence of his DNA is not conclusive evidence that he was involved in the fakery.
Rear Adm. Timothy M. Giardina, who was fired last year as No. 2 commander of nuclear forces at an early stage of a Navy criminal investigation into the counterfeit chips, acknowledged that he played the fake chips at a poker table in the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in June 2013.
But he denied any involvement in the counterfeiting or even knowing the chips were fakes at the time he used them.
The three chips in question were altered with paint and stickers to make genuine $1 casino chips look like $500 chips.
Giardina declined to discuss details. He said he stands behind a detailed written statement he submitted in April to Adm. Bill Gortney, who at the time was determining disciplinary action against Giardina in light of the months-long probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The Associated Press on Sunday obtained a copy of that statement, which has not been publicly released and was not included in NCIS records of the Giardina case that the newsgathering cooperative obtained last week under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the statement, Giardina said he deeply regretted having not immediately surrendered to security officers the four chips that he said he found in a toilet stall at the Horseshoe. He said it was an “error of judgment” that he put three of the chips in play at a poker table, and that he was sorry he subsequently lied in saying he had purchased them from a man in the restroom.