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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has demoted the former head of U.S. Africa Command who was accused of spending thousands of dollars on lavish travel and other unauthorized expenses, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Mr. Panetta stripped Gen. William “Kip” Ward of a star, which means that he will now retire as a three-star lieutenant general. Gen.Ward also has been ordered to repay the government $82,000.

The demotion came after retired Army Gen. David H. Petraeus resigned as CIA director because of an extramarital affair and Marine Gen. John Allen was being investigated for potentially improper communications with a woman.

From wire dispatches and staff reports