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Soliciting of Funds for Fired Agency Head’s Legal Defense Held Improper

Associated Press

Officials of the Defense Contract Audit Agency violated personnel regulations by pressing colleagues to contribute to the legal defense of a former director who was fired after he allegedly retaliated against a whistleblower, an investigation has found.

The Pentagon’s inspector general examined the activities of Robert D. Bickel and other agency officials after Charles O. Starrett Jr. was dismissed in June, 1985.

Starrett was fired after the Merit Systems Protection Board concluded that he had tried to punish one of his auditors for talking to reporters and federal investigators about alleged wrongdoing. Bickel and three other unidentified agency executives then mounted a fund-raising drive to help Starrett defray the costs of a legal appeal.

The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this summer in Starrett’s favor, allowing Starrett to seek a return to work or some form of compensation.

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Pentagon spokesman Jim Turner said disciplinary actions ranging from counseling to suspensions were taken against those involved in the improper fund-raising.


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