A former Army National Guard recruiter pleaded guilty today in the Western District of Texas for his lead role in a bribery and fraud conspiracy that caused more than $90,000 in losses to the National Guard Bureau, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Former Sergeant Rafael L. Acosta Jr., 39, of San Antonio, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud. He was charged in a criminal information filed on May 25, 2012, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
The case against Acosta arises from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio area engaged in a wide-ranging bribery and fraud scheme to illegally obtain recruiting bonuses. To date, the investigation has led to charges against a total of eight individuals, six of whom have pleaded guilty, including Acosta.
According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc., to administer a recruiting program designed to offer monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard. Through this program, a participating soldier could receive up to $2,000 in bonus payments for every person referred to join the Army National Guard. Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payments in the form of direct deposits and pre-paid debit card payments. To participate in the program, soldiers were required to have an online recruiting assistant account.
According to court documents, Acosta enlisted in the Army National Guard in approximately May 2007, and he served as a recruiter between approximately August 2007 and November 2009. Acosta admitted that, between approximately January 2008 and February 2010, he and other recruiters obtained the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers. Acosta and his co-conspirators used this information to claim that those co-conspirators were responsible for recruiting the potential soldiers, when in fact they were not.
Acosta admitted that he and others used the recruiting assistant accounts of five participating soldiers to receive the fraudulently obtained recruiting bonuses and that the majority of this money was then sent directly to bank accounts controlled by Acosta. Acosta further admitted that he divided the unlawful proceeds among his co-conspirators, including four soldiers who permitted Acosta to use their accounts and two other recruiters who provided information concerning potential soldiers.
The charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the pecuniary gain or loss. Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 24, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in San Antonio.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya Jr. and Brian A. Lichter of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of the Major Procurement Fraud Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.