Senior Pentagon Official Arrested in Human Trafficking Operation
Reports of the arrest of a senior Pentagon official on serious charges related to human trafficking made headlines in national media over the weekend. Stephen Francis Hovanic was arrested in Georgia’s Coweta County in a sting operation against human trafficking earlier this month.
Star and Stripes identified Hovanic as chief of staff for Defense Department schools in the United States for the past 13 years. He was arrested on November 15 in Coweta, about 25 miles from Atlanta, along with two dozen other suspects during a sting on prostitution, drug use, firearm possession, and outstanding warrants. Hovanic is one of the ten individuals arrested on charges of pandering – the legal term for pressuring or coercing someone to engage in prostitution. Six women were identified as victims in this sting operation.
Media stories of the operation noted that pandering is a misdemeanor offense in the state of Georgia.
Conservative news blogger Collin Rug of Trending Politics shared an image of the collage of mugshots of suspects arrested in the sting, pointing out Hovanic. Rug wrote that it is worse to see an official of the Department of Defense, specifically overseeing elementary schools for the Pentagon, involved in such criminal activity.
The New American magazine reported on the incident and wrote that it puts the department’s oversight of officials to question.
This incident under the Biden administration raises questions about the oversight of officials in key positions.
The news of Hovanic’s arrest also prompted a number of Twitter/X accounts to share an old Fox News clip about a 2008 investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs into thousands of employees working for various federal agencies including Department of Defense, U.S. Military, DARPA, NSA and NASA – all under a probe for child pornography. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is said to have dropped the case after 8 months citing “lack of resources.”
The official report of the Inspector General of DCIS (2009) can be found here.
In January 2022, the BBC reported that Information Commander Stephen Shedd of the US Navy pleaded guilty to selling state secrets to a foreign defense contractor in exchange for $250,000 in cash and prostitution services. Another Navy official, Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Nelson, was found guilty in 2019 of trafficking and patronizing prostitutes while on duty in Bahrain in 2017-2018. Nelson was dishonorably discharged from the Navy with part of his pay was forfeited.