By Skip Munger | News of the Force
[Editor’s Note: In the summer of 2015, convicted felon, Capt Randall Cason was an instructor at the Hawk Mountain Ranger School for cadets in Pennsylvania. Convicted felons are common in the Civil Air Patrol.]
On four occasions under the administration of Civil Air Patrol (CAP) National Commander Gen Amy S. Courter, someone has informed NOTF about a CAP member who is a convicted felon.
Though the CAP’s current National Commander declines to speak to NOTF on other issues, we can attest that reports about convicted felons get her immediate attention. She has called for details and asked that documentation be faxed to the CAP’s National Headquarters. This is, we might add, a responsive behavior we have never seen before in a National Commander. On the first two occasions, the felons disappeared from the membership roster shortly after Gen Courter became aware of the situation.
The other two reports are recent. One is presently under investigation, we understand, but what happened to the other is appalling. This report involves a Florida Wing member who is a convicted felon and a former Miami Springs police officer. He first came to our attention about this time last year when he was suspended by the CAP for a “hazing” incident. The CAP permits no hazing of members.
About that time, NOTF received 64 pages of documentation on this member, Randall Cason, from a Florida CAP official, showing that, on one occasion, this member was picked up for possession of cocaine, DUI and running a light at the same time. On another, he was in possession of a machine gun. On another, he was found in possession of several police badges and a receipt for them, a gun, and $1,000 in cash. A search of his home surfaced another $1,000 in cash. In both cases, the cash was easily traceable because it was being used in a police investigation. The money trail apparently led to Cason’s conviction – ultimately for trying to bribe a public official. He appealed unsuccessfully and served five years in a state penitentiary.
Under certain very rare circumstances, the CAP’s National Commander or Executive Director can grant a waiver allowing a convicted felon into CAP membership. Usually, this would be a case involving a one-time offense, perhaps a youthful indiscretion, which the CAP has reason to believe will be not repeated. Once that waiver is granted, it cannot be overturned.
As one party explained, “It’s like receiving a pardon from the President or the Governor. Once pardoned, you are pardoned.”
In this case, the member, Randall Cason, was granted such a waiver by a former CAP Executive Director. Some research reveals that the Executive Director was not given authority to grant such a waiver until Maj Gen Rick Bowling was the National Commander, at which time, Col Pineda would have been serving as the Southeast Region Commander.
A familiar thread? We hasten to add that this was well before Gen Courter held national office as either the Vice-Commander or Commander.
So, a convicted felon remains as an active member in the CAP’s Florida Wing. And, apparently, no one can do anything about it.
Another CAP official told us that this is not the first time CAP has had its hands tied by such waivers, which Col Pineda used rather freely.
In a conversation with us, Gen Courter assured us that she is not content to let things remain this way if she can do anything about it. She intends to make the CAP leadership aware of the situation, as she has in the past. Perhaps the issue will come before the committee that is reviewing and addressing the CAP’s governance issues.
Once again, the point NOTF keeps trying to hammer home is that the corruption of the Bowling-Pineda-Kauffman-Chitwood crowd has long, deep roots, and tentacles that reach far into the organization. It certainly raises questions about what other plans might have been afoot. One man (Pineda) did not accomplish this alone or without help. It is past time for those responsible for the CAP at the highest levels to address this.
Our story in yesterday’s Evening Edition about convicted felon Lt Col William Lynch still serving in the CAP – now in its Washington Wing, brought out a swift reaction from the Civil Air Patrol this morning.
In a emailed response from a highly-placed CAP source this morning, the source told us: “Regarding Bill Lynch: the CAP did all that could be done. When Gen Pineda allowed Lynch back in (Pineda granted Lynch a waiver – or more) the regulation regarding that says that the decision is final. If Lynch were to do anything worthy of termination of his membership [now], then he would be terminated, just like any other member. He was demoted, however, and nobody can mistake him for a CAP corporate officer, and he can never serve as a corporate officer of any type [including again becoming a Wing Commander].”
NOTF knew that former National Commander Pineda issued more than one such waiver for his “buddies,” but when we first broke the Lynch story nothing was said about Lynch having received such a waiver from Pineda. In fact, NOTF was told at the time that Lynch’s CAP membership had been terminated. And, although he can “never be mistaken for a CAP corporate officer,” the fact remains that he can still be mistaken for a CAP officer, and that, in itself, is tragic.
Which brings up the question: How many CAP members had their memberships terminated for some alleged wrongdoing – or because they simply ticked off some self-important CAP officer with the power to dump them – but were not even convicted felons? Too many, apparently, but the CAP doesn’t provide any figures on that.
• Ponzi Scheme Felon on Arizona Wing & NHQ Staff
Harold Coghlan, James Nova are one of 333 convicted felons that Mark Smith waived into the CAP. Not many would consider them good mentors towards our youth.