A former soldier of the U.S. Army National Guard has pleaded guilty for his role in a bribery and fraud scheme that caused approximately $70,000 in losses to the U.S. Army 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.
Former Sergeant First Class Michael Rambaran, 51, of Pearland, Texas, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and one count of aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2014 before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston.
The case 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, 22 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 Army National Guard soldiers 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.
Rambaran admitted that between approximately February 2008 and August 2011, 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 so that they could use the information to obtain fraudulent recruiting referral bonuses by falsely claiming that they were responsible for referring those potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when in fact they were not. In exchange for the information, Rambaran admitted that he personally received a total of approximately $29,000 in payments from the recruiting assistants.
Co-conspirators Edia Antoine, Ernest A. Millien III and Melanie Moraida pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in connection to this scheme. Antoine and Millien are each scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 24, 2014. Moraida is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 26, 2014. All of these sentencing hearings are set before U.S. District Judge Rosenthal in Houston.
Another alleged co-conspirator, Christopher Renfro, who was indicted on Aug. 7, 2013, remains charged with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Trial is currently scheduled for June 16, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Rosenthal in Houston. An indictment is only an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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.