Chaplain Chief’s Secretary Steals $131,000

A secretary to the Air Force’s top chaplain embezzled over $130,000 on her government credit card.

A secretary to the Air Force chief of chaplains at Bolling Air Force Base pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling more than $131,000 from the government. Maria R. Hartline, 53, of Vienna admitted using a government credit card for personal purchases, submitting fraudulent claims for overtime and vacation pay, and requesting voucher payments for personal trips. Hartline acknowledged using co-workers’ and supervisors’ computer passwords to avoid having to get approval for her false claims.

I believe there’s a Commandment covering this sort of thing . . .

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Religion
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Fersboo says:

    I could see that snarky comment being appropriate if it was the Chaplain who had embezzled the funds, but fail to see the wit given that it was the Chaplain’s secretary.

  2. Boyd says:

    Your definition of “snarky” must be different from mine, Fers.

  3. So you take lots of money from people and then put it in a big pile. Then low level employees sneak over and take some of the money when they shouldn’t. Isn’t this a dog bites man story.

    p.s. Fersboo, I don’t think the commandment was restrictive to occupation.

  4. BrianOfAtlanta says:

    But the commandment is restrictive to the Law, and Christians aren’t bound by the Law, so she probably thought it’d be OK. Assuming she’s Christian, of course. She probably forgot about the whole “love thy neighbor” thing. Just a momentary lapse, I’m sure.

  5. McGehee says:

    Christians aren�t bound by the Law

    Right. That whole “render unto Caesar” thing? Roman propaganda.

  6. McGhee,

    “the Law” is referring to the old testament law (as opposed to civil law). So Brian’s statement was a bit of Christian humor. Since Christ died for everyones sins to redeem them despite their sinful nature, we are not longer bound by our efforts to keep the Law in trying for salvation.

    As to the “render unto Caesar”, this is generally viewed to mean follow the government on things pertaining to the government’s authority and follow God on things pertaining to God’s authority. The case here is a twofer. Both government and God’s law say it is wrong to steal.

  7. McGehee says:

    So Brian�s statement was a bit of Christian humor.


    On what planet?

  8. M Conner says:

    You are all wrong! Maria is a devout Christian and your comment’s disgust me!

    As a past employee at AF/HC, I must say first that this article lacks integrity. Second and appalling, it implicates all who followed, witnessed or had knowledge of the Chief of Chaplain’s established and condoned office business practices over the past 12 years. I know first hand Maria did not “embezzle” from the US Government or the Air Force Chief of Chaplain’s Office. The real truth is that some of her supervisors now are stating that they would not “approve” or “authorize” any overtime hours which she understood from past experience as authorized overtime performed. Thus what overtime she did claim now is labeled as embezzlement.

    Furthermore, it is alleged that some of her supervisors are stating she was doing other staff members’ work on behalf of the Chief of Chaplain’s Office and thus needed to stay after duty hours to accomplish her own work on behalf of the same Chief of Chaplain’s Office. It is also alleged that some of her supervisors are stating the hours she worked after duty hours were all ‘Gratis.” Do you work for Gratis? I sure never did! My supervisors in the Chief of Chaplain’s Office approved my overtime worked and they work for the same supervisors as Maria who insist on denying her overtime performed? The perception is that this case is one of double standards.

    Maria is getting railroaded by the Media and the AF Chief of Chaplain’s Office. She doesn’t deserve this treatment for claiming overtime hours she actually worked. I am sure she has gone beyond the call of duty in the Chief of Chaplain’s Office that many current and past employees have participated in, witnessed, or reaped benefits from on more than one occasion. I can count the times she was the first in the office and worked past COB — virtually everyday. I worked with her for 4 years and she NEVER had a “real” scheduled day off without the Chaplain Service intruding. Even though the office simultaneously was covered by chaplains and NCOs, those same assigned personnel never hesitated to reach Maria via her government issued blackberry or on her personal cell phone on a recurring basis to get assistance related to the Chaplain Service mission. The Chaplain Service has acknowledged time and again over the past 12 years that it could not run without Maria’s expertise.

    This statement represents my personal opinion, it doesn’t reflect the views of any of the parties mentioned in the email.

  9. Steve Calandrino says:

    I am a Program Manager for one of the BIG 3 Auto companies in Detroit and it looks to me as the U.S. Government has different standards. For one thing as a manager if one of my employees was charging overtime and I didn’t approve it it would NOT be the employee being charged for so called embezzling it would be me as the SUPERVISOR. It sounds like our government the people who protect us are COWARDS and LIARS and don’t want to take responsibility for there actions. SOMEONE has to approve OVERTIME maybe her boss told her just to approve it. I know this woman personally and I have been with her on weekends when she was being called on her personal phone for work. That is free work (that is what her supervisors called it), WHO just WHO works for FREE these days remember we are in a NEW United States of America where NOTHING is FREE and everyone watches out for themselves and stabs whoever they can to make it to the top. It is disgusting that these people are so called Religious People (her Supervisors)and are in our Military. “STEP UP YOU COWARDS AND COME CLEAN OR BURN IN HELL” There should be an investigation of the whole department and they all should be court marshal led and the sad thing is you folks know who I’m talking about. THIS DIVISION IS NO LONGER EVEN NEEDED the Government could save our money by dismantling it, and getting rid of the MILITARY COWARDS that work there.