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Four Army National Guard Soldiers from Texas Plead Guilty to Bribery and Fraud Schemes

John Moore, Getty Images

Four Army National Guard soldiers from Texas have pleaded guilty in connection with bribery and fraud schemes to defraud the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau.

According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, 33-year-old Melanie D. Moraida of Pearland; 28-year-old Kimberly N. Hartgraves of League City; 27-year-old Lashae C. Hawkins of San Antonio; and 35-year-old Vanessa Phillips of Houston have all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.

The case against all four defendants arise from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.

The schemes reportedly caused a total of more than $210,000 in losses to the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau.

The Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, also known as G-RAP, was implemented in September 2005, and offers monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join.

Moraida, Hartgraves, Hawkins, and Phillips have all admitted that they paid Army National Guard recruiters for the names and Social Security numbers of potential Army National Guard soldiers.

They further admitted that they used the personal identifying information for these potential soldiers in claiming that they were responsible for referring the people to join, when in fact they had not referred them.

To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 15 of whom have pleaded guilty.

The bribery charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.

The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on December 17th, 2013.

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