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Alaska National Guard allowed recruiters to rape, embezzle, sell steroids: report

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A top commander for the Alaska National Guard was recommended for “other than honorable” discharge earlier this year following an investigation that found he allowed recruiters to sexually assault and harass women.

Lt. Col. Joseph Lawendowski failed to act on multiple complaints of serious misconduct, including rape, against four noncommissioned officers under his command, according to an Army investigation.

The Anchorage Press obtained a copy of the Army Regulation 15-6 report that found Lawendowski, a former pornography company owner and co-founder of an “end times” fundamentalist group, violated the National Guard code of conduct on multiple occasions.

The 46-year-old Lawendowski, who joined the Alaska National Guard in 2003, promoted steroid use by recruiters, used government vehicles for strip club outings, showed up drunk to a sled dog race sponsored by the service, and possibly used government-issued credit cards for improper purchases.

The March 3 report recommended a separate investigation into his possible misuse of funds, including purchases of plane tickets to Dubai and Sweden, items at a luxury children’s store in Paris, and $1,500 and $2,000 bar tabs in Anchorage and Juneau, the newspaper reported.

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The report found Lawendowski created a workplace climate of fear and intimidation by allowing four NCOs – identified as Command Sgt. Maj. Clinton Brown, Master Sgt. Jarrett Carson, Master Sgt. John Nieves, and Sgt. 1rst Class Shannon Tallant – to retaliate against soldiers who filed complaints and to feel above the law.

Three of those NCOs – Carson, Nieves, and Tallant – were known to National Guard members as the “Three-Headed Monster” due to their widely known misconduct and abnormally large size, and sworn statements show they had a motto: “What happens in recruiting, stays in recruiting.”

The report found Tallant fraternized with his direct supervisor, Brown, who was a passenger when the recruiter was arrested for drunken driving in March 2011, and investigators found their relationship allowed Tallant to “continue to use his rank and position to abuse junior soldiers as well as prey on young women.”

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The recruiters boasted of their close relationships with superior officers, including Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, who led the Alaska National Guard until he was forced to resign last month by Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, who took over when former Gov. Sarah Palin stepped down in 2009.

Brigadier Gen. Catherine Jorgensen, the Chief of Staff for the Alaska Army National Guard, was fired earlier this month by the acting commander of the Alaska National Guard but rehired the next day at Parnell’s insistence.

The National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations strongly criticized the Alaska National Guard leadership, saying the service mishandled sexual assault cases and widespread unethical behavior by officers.

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The OCI report showed Lawendowski had been the subject of multiple criminal investigations for weapons smuggling, rape, and drug trafficking – but none of those criminal investigations resulted in prosecution “due to jurisdictional issues or lack of evidence,” the newspaper reported.

Lawendowski, who formed a corporation — Kodiak Entertainment Group, Inc. – that operated at least seven pornographic websites and then the Christian fundamentalist Berean Watchmen organization, reported directly to Katkus, the OCI report found.

This deviated from the normal chain of command, the newspaper reported, and investigators found that other National Guard members knew Lawendowski was friends and neighbors with Katkus.

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Lawendowski was named Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations for Operations and Training in June 2012, but head chaplain Lt. Col. Rick Koch and at least five other active or retired officers have begged Parnell’s office for about a year and a half to investigate him and his associates.

They provided the governor’s office with detailed allegations about fraud and the cover-up of sexual assaults, the newspaper reported.

The chaplain told Parnell’s chief of staff that Lawendowski had improperly spent more than $200,000 and led a command with known ties to illegal drug sales and many sexual assaults – and he said Katkus knew about the allegations.

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“As one officer put it, ‘We are now putting criminals in our senior positions,’” Koch said in an email.


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‘He’s lost his mind’: Lindsey Graham’s latest defense of Trump’s racist attacks leaves Americans sick to their stomach

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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was dragged over the coals on Thursday morning for defending Donald Trump's increasingly racist attacks on Somalia-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) saying it was "love it or leave it" 1968 politics having nothing to do with race.

Speaking with reporters the morning after Trump incited rallygoers to chant "send her back" after he launched an ugly attack on the Democratic lawmakers, Graham said the president couldn't be a racist because he would never encourage the repatriation of a Somali immigrant if they were wearing a MAGA hat.

Graham's glib defense outraged Twitter users who had already thought the conservative senator had hit rock bottom when it came to defending the president.

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Jeffrey Epstein denied bail — will stay in jail until sex trafficking trial

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A federal judge denied bail bail to Jeffrey Epstein after his arrest on sex-trafficking charges.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman heard arguments from prosecutors and Epstein's attorneys Monday but waited until Thursday to issue his ruling.

Prosecutors argued that Epstein, who has pleaded not guilty, should remain jailed because he's a danger to the public and a flight risk, pointing to a phony passport listing a Saudi Arabia residence that was found in a safe at his New York home, along with cash and diamonds.

Defense lawyers insisted Epstein would not flee the country and asked for him to be released on house arrest at his Manhattan townhouse and equipped with GPS monitoring.

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The FBI believes Donald Trump and Hope Hicks discussed silencing Stormy Daniels with payments

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New court documents released from the Southern District of New York revealed that Hope Hicks and Donald Trump were both involved with the hush-money payments given to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The information released were documents related to the search warrant for the campaign finance violations that former Trump fixer Michael Cohen pled guilty to. They were supposed to be fully unredacted, however, dozens of pages and names remain redacted.

"The government has effectively concluded its investigation of (1) who, besides Michael Cohen, was involved in and may be criminally liable for the two campaign finance violations to which Cohen pled guilty [redacted]; and (2) whether certain individuals, [redacted], made false statements gave false testimony or otherwise obstructed justice in connection with this investigation [redacted]," the documents revealed.

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