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National Guard recruiting scandal includes Georgia, South Carolina

Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014 9:07 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 2:22 AM
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More than 5,500 National Guard members in Georgia and South Carolina have been linked to an Army recruiting scandal that paid participants up to $100 million in illegal bonuses to sign up friends at the height of the Iraq War.

It is not immediately clear whether any of the soldiers are from Fort Gordon or the National Guard’s offices in Augusta and Graniteville; however, Army records show that 23 recruiters and 64 assistants from Georgia and South Carolina are under review or have been investigated for their involvement in the illicit operation.

“What we’re seeing here today is one of the largest criminal investigations in the history of the Army, both by the sheer scale and scope of the fraud,” said U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight.

McCaskill’s subcommittee and Army investigators revealed this week that pervasive fraud in the Army National Guard’s Recruiting Assistance Program likely led to more than $50 million in fraud, with the worst case scenario of secretly pocketed bonuses up to $100 million.

The program, which was established in 2005 to help achieve recruiting goals, was designed to provide incentives to National Guard members, retirees and civilians as informal recruiters.

They would tell their peers about the advantages of joining the National Guard, refer them to an Army recruiter, and if the person signed up, the referral source – or “recruiting assistant” – got a payment between $2,000 and $7,500.

In one way, the program worked. The National Guard paid more than $300 million for more than 130,000 enlistments, and began meeting its recruiting goals. But by 2007, the program leader reported about a dozen cases of potential fraud to the Army’s Criminal Investigative Command. After investigating and confirming several individual cases of fraud, the command requested a program-wide audit by the Army Audit Agency in 2011. Auditors later found that the fraud was so significant that more than 1,200 recruiters and 2,000 recruiter assistants had received payments that might be fraudulent.

Army documents show the top five recipients of fraudulent money all were paid more than $100,000.

The top recipient, who received $274,500, is being prosecuted. The third-highest recipient, who received $208,500, pleaded guilty. And more than 200 officers, including several generals and colonels, are under investigation.

“No one is more outraged about this than the leadership of the United States Army,” spokesman Lt. Col. Don Peters said in a statement. “After internal Army investigations identified instances of fraud in Recruiting Assistance Programs, the Secretary of the Army immediately terminated those programs and their funding in February 2012.”

Army investigators have said they’ve begun a two-year review of all 106,364 individuals who received money from the program worldwide.

According to Army investigative reports, pressure from senior leaders in the National Guard Bureau to meet recruiting goals created a culture for the fraudulent activity.

Although some officers voiced concerns about meeting recruiting standards, Army leadership did not share those concerns.

“The complete lack of controls and safeguards on this program created a culture of permissibility where it didn’t take much for thousands of people to figure out that fraud would be easy,” McCaskill said.

As of January, ongoing reviews have resulted in a total of 559 criminal investigations involving 1,219 people, with 104 prosecuted through the courts or through administrative action by the Army.

Under prosecutions by the Department of Justice, at least one former member of the National Guard has been sentenced to serve 4 years, nine months in jail, with others sentenced to varying terms.

Prosecution of the cases has been limited by the five-year statute of limitations for some fraud cases. To date, individuals have been ordered to pay the government $936,683 in restitution.

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agustinian 02/06/14 - 07:33 am
Long Article -- No Details

This is long article but lacks any details of the alleged "fraud." How was the fraud perpetrated? Recruiters took money for fictitious enlistees? Recruiters took money for unqualified recruits? What was the fraud?

jmo 02/06/14 - 08:24 am
Now they......

will spend an additional $300 million {or more} investigating a program they created, implemented and failed to supervise.

seenitB4 02/06/14 - 08:25 am
Gov programs

Do we have any program that isn't infested with fraud? I think not.

Ebt cards

on & on....let the gov create it & they will find a way to abuse it.

Maybe we need to STOP creating so many programs, huh..

resident 02/06/14 - 10:40 am
The system

It worked in this way. Recruiters got paid bonuses for meeting or exceeding their quota. The recruiting assistance program paid active/guard members a bonus if they were able to get someone to join and go into a field deemed needy (can't remember the exact term). The Air force had a similar program but more closely monitored it. The recruit had to complete all pre-drill exercises and meet standards of conduct. This part usually caused many of those that would not make it in the military to quit or be removed. I participated and the one I recruited had meet the requirement then I got half. After completing basic and training schools I received the second part. It was a good program because of the checks and balances. Looks like there might have been a few loopholes in some programs that got exploited.

Taxpayer Relief
Taxpayer Relief 02/06/14 - 01:54 pm
National Guard Fraud in Georgia and South Carolina

Is it a wonder officers and enlisted in the national guard have failed to live up to Army Etho's and Army Code of Conduct in South Carolina when the leadership is corruptible by an elected adjutant general who takes money from his subordinates to fund his campaign and rewards those contributors with promotions based on those contributions setting the example that anything goes under his command. Has any South Carolina officers in charge been terminated or senior NCO's in the recruting force, the State Military Personnel officer in charge of recruiting and retention been fired, the chief of staff been fired, the deputy adjutant general or the adjutant general himself been admonished or fired or held accountable. The answer is no. There may be an investigation but the leadership will circle the wagons and the system will return to normal corrupt standard operating procedures and waisting of American taxpayer funds as usual.

corgimom 02/06/14 - 07:43 pm
I am confused about this

I am confused about this story.

"More than 5,500 National Guard members in Georgia and South Carolina have been linked to an Army recruiting scandal that paid participants up to $100 million "

and then there's this

"The top recipient, who received $274,500, is being prosecuted"

How did it pay participants up to $100 million if the top recipient only receive $274,500?

This makes no sense to me at all.

fedex227 02/06/14 - 08:04 pm
The Chronicle leaves us guessing again.

I think the scam is .... I'm an Army recruiter ... I can't benefit from this program that is designed to have army reservists, guardsmen, and civilians try to convince people to join the army (co-workers/friends/etc.). Why? Becuase I'm already a recruiter and am being paid to recruit civilians to join. Guy walks into my recruiting station and says I want to join the army. I get on the phone to one of my buds and say, hey i got this guy ready to join the army, go to this website (of a company the army outsourced to-bad move) and say that you recommended this guy. You'll get a check for $$$ for referring him, and you and I will split it.

corgimom - if I as a recruiter have a list of 40-50 names of people ready to sign up (but nobody acutally 'referred' them) and i call my friends and give them the names ... they get the bonus money and I get a kickback for giving them the name of the recruit). Spread this out over 1200 recruiters and it could add up to hundreds of millions of dollars -- and if you're an especially devious recruiter and have a long list of enrollees with no referrals you could rake in some big bucks. Be all you can be I guess.

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