You’d think that more than a year after News of the Force reported that the then-commander of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP)’s Arizona Wing was a convicted felon, and he was removed from that office, that at least that wing would have learned a lesson.
Not so fast, though. Now, NOTF has learned that the current vice commander of the CAP’s Arizona Wing is also a convicted felon, having been convicted in a federal court in Arizona in 2007 of a second-degree federal felony.
The charges had to do with conspiracy, money-laundering, and embezzlement. CAP Major James L. Nova, the wing’s vice commander, pleaded guilty to one felony charge and received probation. But now, in addition to his duties as the wing’s vice commander, sources have told NOTF, has been given the additional duty – are you sitting down? – as the Arizona Wing’s financial officer!
A copy of Major Nova’s official CAP biography, with his photograph in uniform, from the Arizona Wing’s Web site, can be viewed here: Arizona Wing Civil Air Patrol Vice Commander.
Nova’s biography says that he attended the Concord Law School from 2001-2003. It does not indicate that he received a degree. According to its Web site, Concord Law School became a part of Kaplan University in 2007. Kaplan is apparently an accredited school, but the Concord Law School is not. Both are online universities, and Concord’s Web site does not make any claims that graduates of the law school can become members of the bar in any state. In fact, Concord’s own Web site states: “Increasingly, a law degree is the ticket into a host of rewarding careers – many of which don’t require taking a bar exam, joining a practice or engaging in any of those high-drama courtroom scenes you’ve seen on Law and Order or Boston Legal.”
And the Arizona Wing should have known that Nova had been charged by the federal government in the money-laundering scheme. A detailed story on the case, naming names, was published in the Arizona Republic newspaper in 2004. On May 29, 2004, reported Dennis Wagner, “Angelo S. Tullo, 48, of Scottsdale, is charged with 29 counts of conspiracy, money laundering and wire fraud while at American Business Funding, Inc., and HVAC Depot, Inc.” Also indicted were Gene Monteleone, 47, and James Nova, 65, both of Scottsdale; John R. “Rick” Wolfe, 51, of Glendale; Margaret Molter, 35, of Mesa; and Allan Guttentag, 53, of Agoura Hills, Calif.
“Court records say the defendants also used ‘a classic Ponzi scheme,’ paying early investors with money from those who followed. Each felony count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, plus fines and asset forfeiture. Internal Revenue Service spokesman Jim McCormick said the four-year investigation was conducted by his agency and the FBI,” Wagner wrote. “Tullo and Monteleone headed ABF, of Scottsdale, before it filed for bankruptcy protection three years ago amid criminal investigations and lawsuits. Guttentag and Wolfe also worked at ABF. Before that, Tullo and Nova oversaw HVAC, which suffered a similar demise. Molter is Tullo’s personal assistant.”
A link to the entire Arizona Republic story from 2004 can be found here:
“The indictments represented the first criminal prosecution in a network of white-collar enterprises tracked by enforcement agencies for years, as first published in the Arizona Republic in May 2004. Nova pled guilty in federal court to 1 count of conspiracy, after reaching a plea agreement,” a source who requested anonymity told NOTF. “Nova currently serves not only as the vice commander, but has also been appointed chairman of the organization’s finance committee. Additionally, Nova holds a title of “strategic partner,” a position designed to lure corporate donations to the organization,” the source said. “Nova, together with state [CAP] commander John Eggen, who appointed Nova to these powerful positions, lobbied closely with Arizona state legislators on House Bill 2482, allowing state and federal taxpayer funds to be used by the [state’s] CAP.”
News of the Force reported all of this information, and provided copies of the court documents obtained exclusively by NOTF, to the CAP’s national headquarters at Maxwell AFB, Ala., prior to running this story. Sources close to the national headquarters told NOTF that a “major meeting” was held on this subject this morning at the organization’s national headquarters, and that a national inspector general’s investigation has been initiated.
And in an e-mail to our editor today, Julie DeBardelaben, the deputy director of public affairs at the CAP’s national headquarters, writes: “Mr. Munger, Just wanted to follow up to let you know that CAP is in receipt of your e-mail. This information is under review and CAP regulations will be followed. Thanks, Julie.”
One of the reasons NOTF passed all of this information to the CAP prior to running the story was to see if the CAP would actually take appropriate action in this case when presented with documented evidence. The CAP, to its credit, not only did that, but did it swiftly. And Ms. DeBardelaben was extremely helpful and cooperative with us throughout this process.