4-star US Army general investigated over spending

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A four-star Army general who was the first head of the new U.S. Africa Command is under investigation for possibly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars improperly on lavish travel, hotels and other items, The Associated Press has learned.

Gen. William “Kip” Ward has been under investigation for about 17 months, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to make a final decision on the matter before the end of the month, according to several defense officials.

The defense officials said Ward is facing numerous allegations that he spent several hundred thousand dollars allowing unauthorized people, including family members, to fly on government planes, and spent excessive amounts of money on hotel rooms, transportation and other expenses when he traveled as head of Africa Command.

A four-star general is the highest rank in the Army.

While the exact amount of alleged misspending was not disclosed, the estimated total raises comparisons with the $823,000 allegedly spent by dozens of employees of the General Services Administration, who were accused of lavish spending during an October 2010 conference at a Las Vegas resort.

Officials described the investigation to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it is a personnel matter and the report on the investigation has not been released publicly.

The Defense Department inspector general has completed its investigation into Ward’s activities, and the issue is under legal review.

A request for comment from Ward was not immediately fulfilled Wednesday.

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