One more notable little secret of San Diego–bred Navy brass has finally found its way into the open. A rear admiral who was a top supply officer here has been caught with his hands in the government cookie jar.
Two buddies of the admiral, who were about to step up to one-star rank themselves, went along on one of the trips, an allegedly celebratory junket across the pond to England.
"On 29 June 2012, the Naval Inspector General received an anonymous complaint that [Rear Admiral] Mark F. Heinrich, Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and Chief of the Supply Corps, abused his position and wasted government resources in conjunction with his official travel," begins a June 17, 2013, report, released this April 21 after requests made under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Heinrich had been the commander of the Fleet and Industrial Supply Centers in San Diego through the summer of 2011 before being promoted to the supply systems command.
The unidentified whistleblower "alleged that there was ‘an extensive perception by many’ that Heinrich used his official position for his own personal gain and that of his spouse.
“The complainant further alleged that Heinrich travels ‘for most of every calendar month and is only at [the supply command] for approximately 2-3 business days per month.’
“The complainant stated that Heinrich frequently arranged his official travel to include weekends and thereby enjoyed two days off at government expense.”
A journey to the British Isles came in for particular scrutiny. "On one trip to the United Kingdom, Heinrich was accompanied by [Captain] David R. Pimpo and [Captain] Donald L. Singleton.
During his career, Pimpo has done various San Diego stints, including running the Fleet Logistics Center and being an assistant force supply officer here.
The report quotes the whistleblower as saying, "Many military and civilian[s] perceive this official trip was no more than a taxpayer financed vacation to London, England, for six close friends to celebrate the recent selections to flag prior to Singleton detaching to Hawaii (in May 2012) and Pimpo detaching to Columbus (in June 2012)."
"All three subjects testified that they did not recall that they selected a non-contract air fare or that the cost of their air fare to the UK was more expensive than an available contract fare."
Regarding room charges they had run up in London, investigators reported, "the subjects did not recall having stayed at a hotel that cost more than the maximum lodging per diem. They testified that they relied upon [redacted] to reserve rooms within per diem limits."
Another questionable journey was an April 2012 outing by Heinrich to Lawrence, Kansas, to pick up a "Hall of Fame" award from the Navy Petroleum Masters program at the University of Kansas, from which he received a degree in 1989.
"We determined that Heinrich was honored by KU for having been a KU graduate student who later succeeded in his Navy career and achieved Flag rank. The award citation KU drafted was nothing more than a slightly edited version of Heinrich's official biography.
"While the award recognition he received may have been a well-deserved personal accolade, it lacked the necessary tie to the Service/Agency's functions and activities to satisfy the requirements for government-funded travel."
A speech for the occasion, crafted by a taxpayer-paid Navy communications person, also was out of line, investigators concluded.
"The time [redacted] spent preparing Heinrich's acceptance speech was not an appropriate use of his official time. We concluded, therefore, that the use of the speech writer's official time to prepare a speech for an unofficial and personal occasion was improper and further concluded that Heinrich was responsible for the misuse of official time."
In addition, a token of appreciation given by the university to the admiral drew auditors’ fire.
"Heinrich stated that he accepted a gift in the form of a laser-engraved chair from KU. The gift was purchased by the university and shipped to Heinrich...at a cost of $338."
As a government contractor, the university is regarded as a "prohibited source" of gifts, the report says. "Although the standard allows for a gift acceptance exception when the value of the gift is $200 or less, the criteria...were not met in this instance. We concluded, therefore, that Heinrich should not have accepted the chair and that doing so was a violation of the standard."
Other of multiple travel transgressions called out by auditors included a May 30 through June 3, 2012, trip at government expense to Washington DC and Richmond, Virginia.
"We...determined that his subsequent travel to Richmond was not official business, it was a personal trip he made to attend a family friend's wedding in the company of [redacted]," says the report. "It was improper for him to claim the train fare expense for reimbursement.”
The same month, it was off to Newport, Rhode Island, and another violation of government-expense regs.
"Heinrich failed to select the least expensive rental car when a lower cost rental car was available to him," says the report. "We were not persuaded by his justification for selecting a higher cost rental car when he stated that the company selected was 'the preferred company due to the tight timeline of this mission.'
"Heinrich's itinerary after he departed from the airport was not hurried or driven by any official duty requirement. He drove from the airport directly to his hotel in Newport and later that evening he attended a social event at the quarters of the Prospective Commanding Officer of the Navy [Supply Corps] School with his wife."
Concluded investigators: "Heinrich's lack of proper involvement in the travel process was an abrogation of his duty to be a responsible traveler.
“Moreover, his mostly hands-off approach to arranging his official travel and filing his travel claims created an atmosphere with his personal staff and the [Naval Supply Systems Command] Program Office staff that perpetuated the problems we identified about his use of government travel funds.
"We believe that a complete audit of his travel, one that will examine all of the [Temporary Duty Travel] he completed during his assignment as Commander, [Naval Supply Systems Command], should be conducted and appropriate payment adjustments made to each travel claim examined by auditors."
Heinrich retired from the Navy in November of last year.