A captain in the Army National Guard pleaded guilty today to playing a lead role in a bribery and fraud scheme resulting in a loss of at least $210,000 to the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Capt. Fabian Barrera, 46, of Schertz, Texas, was indicted on April 17, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on charges of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. Barrera pleaded guilty to one count of bribery, one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
The case against Barrera arises from an investigation into allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses. To date, the investigation has led to charges against 12 individuals, all of whom have pleaded guilty, including Barrera.
According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (Docupak) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP). G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered 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 $3,000 in bonus payments for a referral. Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account. To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.
Court documents state that, between approximately December 2005 and February 2012, Barrera participated as a recruiting assistant in the G-RAP. Barrera admitted that he paid Army National Guard recruiters in the form of cash and check payments for the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers. Barrera then used the information to claim that he was responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the military, when in fact he did not recruit any of them. As a result, Barrera received a total of at least $181,000 in fraudulent recruiting referral bonuses. Also, because of Barrera’s fraudulent referrals, the National Guard Bureau paid Docupak a total of at least $31,000 in administrative fees.
The charge of bribery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss. The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory penalty of two years in prison, which must be imposed consecutively to any other term of imprisonment, and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
The case is being investigated by the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of the Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit and the San Antonio Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Edward J. Loya Jr., Brian A. Lichter, Sean F. Mulryne and Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.