Source: Pentagon report says Marines knew of Osprey falsifications
By Chris Plante
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Pentagon investigation into the falsification of maintenance records for the Marine Corps' embattled MV-22 Osprey has found that a number of Marine Corps officers were aware of the phony records but failed to report the abuse, officials told CNN.
The report, conducted by the Department of Defense inspector general, found that "a small number of Marine officers knew of the falsification and took no action to report it," according to a Marine Corps official familiar with the report.
Those officers could face disciplinary action up to and including court-martial, along with the squadron commander, Lt. Col. O. Fred Leberman, who has admitted to superiors of instructing subordinate Marines to falsify the record.
The report into the falsification of maintenance records for the Marine Corps' controversial MV-22 Osprey program also cleared senior Marine officers of any involvement in the faking of records, the Marine Corps said Friday.
An investigation by the Department of Defense inspector general has determined that the records were faked as a "result of pressure perceived by the squadron commander," according to a Marine Corps official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But the official said, "No evidence was found that any officer senior to the squadron commander suggested or directed that records be falsified."
The inspector general report found that the record tampering began after two fatal crashes of the tilt-rotor aircraft in April and December 2000 and that it had no impact on those accidents. The accidents killed a total of 23 Marines.
Defense Department asked to conduct probe
The MV-22 Osprey is a combat transport aircraft designed to take off and land like a helicopter but fly like an airplane. Critics say the Osprey's revolutionary tilt-rotor design likely contributed to the crashes.
The Marine Corps has invested heavily in the aircraft, slated to replace the aging fleet of Vietnam era CH-46 helicopters. But Leberman instructed Marines in the only Osprey squadron to falsify maintenance records to make the aircraft look better than it really was, a senior Marine official told CNN.
Another Marine made an audio recording of Leberman's instructions on December 29. The Marines released the tape publicly in January.
Leberman was reassigned following the tape's release and may face administrative action or court-martial proceedings for his actions, Marine officials said.
"This may prompt court-martial proceedings, but it remains to be seen what, if any, action will be taken based on the final report," one official said.
Marine Commandant Gen. James Jones initially had ordered an investigation be conducted by the Marine Corps' inspector general, officials said. But Jones later asked the Defense Department inspector general to take over so that the probe would be "independent."
Several Marines may face disciplinary action
The Defense Department inspector general's report determined that "some maintenance records were falsified at the Marine medium tilt rotor training squadron 204 at Marine Corps Air Station (at) New River, North Carolina," according to a Marine official familiar with the report.
"The period of falsification was limited to the period from December 20 (2000) to January 11," he said.
Investigators found that "a small number of Marine officers (other than Leberman) knew of the falsification and took no action to report it," the official said.
He said those officers also may face disciplinary action for their failure to report the wrongdoing.
The report was forwarded Friday from the Defense Department inspector general to the Marine Corps leadership and is expected to be made public at the Pentagon "on or about July 9," the officer said.
The Defense Department inspector general's office conducted some 700 interviews and reviewed more than 3,000 maintenance records, 38 computer hard drives and more than 219,000 e-mails and 84,000 attachments, officials said.
|Back to the top|