Probe of Alleged Payroll Scam, Base Clerk’s Murder Investigated
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ Military agents are investigating whether the killing of a finance clerk is connected to an alleged payroll scam involving solders in Operation Desert Storm, Fort Dix officials said today.
Base spokeswoman Dianne Felder said the Army has no evidence yet of a connection between Army Spc. Lisa Ann Nadeau’s death and the alleged payroll fraud.
The investigation was first reported today by The Trentonian newspaper.
Lt. Col. Michael L. Warner, the base’s chief of staff, and Lt. Col. John T. Meixell, the post’s top lawyer, told the newspaper the investigation into Nadeau’s death will be part of the payroll probe. Warner and Meixell provided few details, and Felder said neither officer was available for comment today.
FBI spokesman Bill Tonkin confirmed the bureau was investigating the alleged payroll scam, which involved the failure to deduct from soldiers’ paychecks money that had been advanced to them. The FBI was uninvolved in the homicide investigation.
He said the FBI was brought into the case by the Army ″a month or two ago.″ He could not estimate when the investigation would be completed.
Nadeau was found beaten, stabbed and strangled April 5, 1991, in her townhouse in a military housing section on the northern edge of the base. Two children, a 3-year-old and 7-month-old, were unharmed.
A $5,000 reward offered by Fort Dix for information about her death has been raised to $25,000.
The newspaper said it was told the scam may have cost the military as much as $1 million. Warner said that figure may be exaggerated.
According to the newspaper, soldiers called to active duty are given part of their regular monthly pay in advance. When they receive their monthly paycheck, that advance is supposed to be deducted.
But the newspaper said no deductions were made when the soldiers, including full-timers and reservists, received their regular checks. Some received checks of $2,000 to $3,000 three times a week, the newspaper said.
The newspaper said it was told part of the money was kicked back to payroll employees.
Warner said since the investigation began, a soldier who was on leave in Louisville, Ky., has been called back for questioning. Four civilians suspected of being involved in the scam have been transferred out of the payroll operation.
Army officials told the newspaper all 154 payroll employees were being questioned. The department includes 13 military employees and 141 civilians.
Felder said that from December 1990 to March 1991, about 9,000 troops passed through Fort Dix to and from missions in the Persian Gulf.
Warner said the investigation has centered on Fort Dix and has not included other bases.