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Release of findings in Air Force Academy inquiry delayed

February 7, 2014 Updated: February 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm
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photo - Former Air Force Cadet Eric Thomas stands outside the cadet dorms Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the day before the Class of 2013 graduates at the Air Force Academy. Thomas, who was a confidential imformant and critical to several convictions, was kicked out of the academy in March,  months short of graduating.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Former Air Force Cadet Eric Thomas stands outside the cadet dorms Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the day before the Class of 2013 graduates at the Air Force Academy. Thomas, who was a confidential imformant and critical to several convictions, was kicked out of the academy in March, months short of graduating. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)  

The Air Force has interviewed former cadet informants and other key players as part of an Inspector General investigation of the secret informant program at the Air Force Academy, but will not say when findings, initially slated to be completed in January, will be released.

A separate review of whether cadets acting as informants were improperly expelled from the academy in recent years also is ongoing with no set date for completion. Initially, academy officials said the review of the disenrollment process would be done in January.

This week, however, academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brus Vidal said the review would likely not be available for a few more weeks, adding, "These types of things take time and the emphasis is on being methodical and getting things right."

An Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon said the IG report, titled "USAFA OSI inquiry," is not completed. She did not provide a date when it would be available.

The Air Force investigations and reviews were prompted by articles in The Gazette in December showing that for years the Air Force has employed a system of secret cadet informants at the academy to search out misconduct. The program encouraged informants to deceive commanders, teachers and their peers in violation of the academy's honor code. Some wore wires and used hidden cameras.

The Gazette showed that at least one informant was later disavowed by the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations and expelled for doing things the Air Force asked him to do as an informant.

Amid criticism from academy graduates and the public, academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson announced in December that the use of confidential cadet informants at the academy had ceased for the time being and vowed to oversee "any operations involving cadet confidential informants" in the future. She also initiated the two ongoing investigations.

Though the Air Force would not provide details of the IG investigation, The Gazette has learned that three key figures in the informant program were contacted by IG investigators in January.

Eric Thomas, a cadet at the center of The Gazette story, said he worked as an informant on dozens of cases before being expelled. He said he was interviewed by investigators Jan. 17. He told The Gazette his former handler, OSI Special Agent Brandon Enos, was interviewed the day before.

Thomas declined to give details on the interview, saying, "I want to let the investigation work its course."

He wishes to return to active duty and hopes for a quick resolution.

Former cadet Adam DeRito, who also was featured in The Gazette, said he worked as a cadet with OSI on multiple cases before being expelled. He tried for years to appeal his case without success.

He said he was contacted by investigators on Jan. 29.

"Finally, it looks like they want to consider a review of my case," he told The Gazette.

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