A soldier in the Texas Army National Guard pleaded guilty today for his role in a bribery and fraud scheme that caused more than $30,000 in losses to the U.S. National Guard Bureau, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.
Sergeant First Class Zaunmine O. Duncan, 38, formerly of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and one count of aggravated identity theft. The case against Duncan arises 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 wide-ranging corruption scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses. To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 23 of whom have pleaded guilty.
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). The 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 bonus payments for referring another individual to join the Army National Guard. 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.
Duncan admitted that between approximately February 2008 and August 2010, while he was a recruiter for the National Guard, he obtained the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers and provided them to recruiting assistants, including co-conspirators Elisha Ceja, Annika Chambers, Kimberly Hartgraves and Lashae Hawkins, so that these recruiting assistants could use the information to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses by falsely claiming that they were responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when they were not. In exchange for the information, Duncan admitted that he personally received a total of at least approximately $24,500 in payments from Ceja, Chambers, Hartgraves and Hawkins.
Duncan is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 28, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston.
Co-conspirators Ceja, Chambers, Hartgraves and Hawkins have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in connection to this scheme. Hartgraves is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2014. Ceja, Chambers and Hawkins are each scheduled to be sentenced on June 26, 2014. All of these sentencing hearings are set before U.S. District Judge Rosenthal in Houston.
The cases are being investigated by special agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of Army CID’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne, Heidi Boutros Gesch and Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas.