National Commander Under Investigation

Antonio PinedaAntonio Pineda

By Erika Bolstad | The Miami Herald

The National Civil Air Patrol is investigating an accusation that its Commander, Maj Gen Antonio Pineda, had a subordinate take a military exam for him.

Gen Pineda, who has led the volunteer search-and-rescue patrol since August 2005, lives in Plantation and has served as an agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The accusations surfaced this week in the online newsletter, News of the Force, which is based in Tampa and covers military-related issues.

The article details a complaint by one of Gen Pineda’s former volunteers, Maj Ray Hayden of Tamarac.

Maj Hayden told The Miami Herald that in 2002 and 2003, he took a correspondence course and exams on Gen Pineda’s behalf, through the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College.

“I took his exams for him,” Maj Hayden said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Civil Air Patrol confirmed that the organization’s inspector general, Col James Linker, is investigating Maj Hayden’s claims.

Gen Pineda has denied any wrongdoing, and in a statement released Wednesday out of the Civil Air Patrol’s headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, said “the allegations are totally false and without merit, and the investigation will prove so beyond any doubt.”

“In the meantime, with the continued support and help of CAP’s National Board members, I will continue to focus all of my energy to ensure CAP continues to achieve its goals and to promote it as the best professional volunteer organization in America,” Gen Pineda said in the statement.

Maj Hayden resigned from the Civil Air Patrol on Friday. He said he was forced to resign following a dispute in October with fellow volunteers. The dispute stemmed from a training session where Maj Hayden refused to put his Social Security number on a sign-in sheet.

“Why the hell did Hayden drop off the information grenade and walk out of the tent?” Maj Hayden asked, referring to himself in the third person. “That’s the question everyone wants to know.”

He said Wednesday that he decided to make his complaint public because he was angry at Gen Pineda for being unsupportive in his dispute with fellow volunteers. Gen Pineda told him in an email that he should resign, Maj Hayden said, which angered him because he had already decided that he didn’t want to remain a member.

Maj Hayden, a recreational pilot with about 200 hours of flying experience, said that he joined the Civil Air Patrol to be able to fly more. In his nearly seven years with the volunteer organization, he flew just twice.


22 December 2006 – Follow Up

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Thursday it will investigate allegations that one of its agents had someone else take a National Civil Air Patrol exam for him.

The FDLE investigation was prompted by news reports that the national Civil Air Patrol’s inspector general is looking into accusations that Maj Gen Antonio Pineda had a subordinate take a correspondence course and a test for him.

Pineda, the National Commander of the volunteer search-and-rescue patrol since August 2005, lives in Plantation. He’s an FDLE special agent and has been with the agency for 26 years.

FDLE’s investigators will look into whether Gen Pineda violated any of the agency’s administrative or policy guidelines as well as whether there were any criminal violations, FDLE spokeswoman Heather Smith said.

Pineda said in a statement released Wednesday by the Civil Air Patrol that “the allegations are totally false and without merit, and the investigation will prove so beyond any doubt.”

The allegations surfaced this week when one of Gen Pineda’s former volunteers, Maj Ray Hayden of Tamarac, told an online newsletter that he took the Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College course and exam for his commander. Maj Hayden resigned from the Civil Air Patrol last week.

The Civil Air Patrol’s inspector general announced Wednesday that he will be investigating Maj Hayden’s claims.

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