|Department of Defense
Office of General Counsel
Standards of Conduct Office (SOCO)
|August 28, 2008
1. Updated Guidance: Gifts to Service Members and Their Families From Non-Federal Sources.
SOCO has updated previous guidance concerning the acceptance of gifts offered
to the Department of Defense, military personnel, their families, and victims
of war. The updated
guidance can be found on our website.
2. Army Contracting Officer Pleads Guilty to Involvement in $9 Million Procurement Scandal.
An Army contracting officer has pled guilty to involvement in a $9 million procurement scandal in which his wife was accused of carrying shopping bags full of cash to banks in the Middle East. Maj. John Cockerham, 43, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty to bribery, conspiracy and money laundering. Cockerham's wife, Melissa Cockerham, 41, also pled guilty to money laundering. John Cockerham told prosecutors that starting in 2004, he was involved in a complex bribery and money-laundering scheme while being deployed to Kuwait. In exchange for awarding illegal contracts for such supplies as bottled water, he received more than $9 million in bribes.
3. Postal Service Case Addresses Improper Use of a Government Credit Card.
William D. Hickmon, a manager at the Postal Service since 2001, was removed for improperly using his government credit card, making false statements during the investigation of that use, failing to schedule a supervisor on two occasions, and improperly altering an employee's time in the system. Charges on the travel card included five gas station charges, a hotel stay, and a car rental charge. Mr. Hickmon appealed the MSPB decision to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That court affirmed the MSPB decision.
4. Employee's Removal for Violation of the Hatch Act Is Ordered by the MSPB.
David Briggs became a Democratic candidate for Schuylkill County Township Supervisor in March of 2007. He won the primary election in May and became the Democratic candidate for the general election. In June, he became a coal mine inspector with the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration. Despite repeated warnings from his employer and the U.S. Office of Special Counsel that his candidacy was in violation of the Hatch Act, he failed to withdraw from the election. Mr. Briggs argued that he was entitled to continue the candidacy that he started before beginning his federal employment. The MSPB disagreed stating that the Hatch Act prohibits an employee from being a candidate for partisan political office at any time that he is covered by the Act, and not just from becoming one while he is an employee. The MSPB ordered the Department of Labor to remove Mr. Briggs from his coal mine inspector position.
5. Former Department of Interior Official Pleads Guilty to Conflicts of Interest Charge.
Until January 2003, Jimmy Mayberry was the special assistant to the Associate Director of Minerals Revenue Management, Department of Interior (DOI). When Mr. Mayberry was nearing retirement, he and his supervisor explored ways he could return to work for DOI after his official retirement. Mr. Mayberry then helped create a consulting position that he himself was hired for after retiring from government. He could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. (Read News Story and DOJ Press Release)
DoD Standards of Conduct Office