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Retired colonel at National Guard unit at Pittsburgh airport pleads guilty in no-show job scam

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PITTSBURGH — A retired colonel who was vice commander of an Air National Guard unit at Pittsburgh International Airport has pleaded guilty to creating a no-show military job for a civilian contractor.

The contractor, in turn, helped the colonel receive additional pay for days he didn't work, a federal prosecutor told a judge Tuesday.

Retired Col. Gerard Mangis, 60, was charged with conspiracy, theft and fraud. Though he pleaded guilty to only the conspiracy charge, Mangis acknowledged the criminal conduct outlined in the other 109 charges against him, Assistant U.S. District Attorney Gregory Melucci said.

Mangis was paid $30,000 to $70,000 more than he should have been from 2006 to 2011, when he resigned without explanation from the 171st Air Refueling Wing. He also had subordinates run personal errands including paying his bills, working on his car, and repairing a toilet and installing a basketball hoop at his home, Melucci said.

"These were known as 'Mangis missions,'" Melucci told Senior U.S. District Judge Gustave Diamond.

Mangis must return for sentencing Nov. 17. The maximum sentence he faces is five years in prison, though guidelines recommend a sentence closer to 2½ years.

Melucci said the loss range was based upon an unspecified amount of illegal pay Mangis received that could be "readily proven." He said the investigation was continuing into both the loss and whether anybody else knew about the scheme and allowed it to go on.

Mangis and his defense attorney declined comment.

Mangis, of Shaler Township, was charged with helping Robert St. Clair, of Bel Air, Maryland, get a no-show job as a tech sergeant at the Pittsburgh-area unit.

St. Clair, who worked for the National Guard Bureau at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, pleaded guilty last year to his role in the quid-pro-quo scheme in which he helped Mangis get paid for shifts he didn't actually work. St. Clair is scheduled for sentencing in September.

According to the indictment, St. Clair was responsible for issuing workdays to Air National Guard units nationwide.

In 2002, St. Clair encountered unspecified "personal financial problems which jeopardized his ability to maintain a national security clearance" he needed to keep his job.

To help out St. Clair, Mangis created a fake job that made it appear St. Clair was an enlisted member at the 171st, which entitled St. Clair to military pay and "commissary benefits, access to military facilities, and 'GI Bill' benefits for his near college-aged children," the indictment said.

Melucci said Mangis knew St. Clair wasn't physically fit enough to perform the job. St. Clair weighed more than 300 pounds, the indictment said.

Mangis' salary as vice commander was about $128,000. Federal prosecutors have previously said the scheme, including bogus pay Mangis received and benefits St. Clair wasn't entitled to, cost taxpayers more than $300,000.

Mangis had subordinates fudge paperwork relating to his extra pay and other documents showing St. Clair completed his duties at the Pittsburgh-area base, even though he never worked there, Melucci said.

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