WASHINGTON – A former soldier who also served as a contract military recruiter pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to obtain more than $200,000 in fraudulent recruiting bonuses from various U.S. military components and their contractor, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Former Staff Sergeant Grant E. Bibb, 40, of Eagle Pass, Texas, was indicted on Sept. 13, 2011, along with former Specialist Xavier Aves, 40, of San Antonio; former Corporal Christopher Castro, 30, of San Antonio; Sergeant First Class Jesus Torres-Alvarez, 31, of El Paso, Texas; Specialist Paul Escobar, 31, of San Antonio; and Specialist Richard Garcia Jr., 28, of San Antonio.
According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Grant E. Bibb served in the Army National Guard from approximately January 2003 until July 2007. Bibb served in the Army Reserves from approximately October 2007 until November 2010. Bibb also served as a contract military recruiter from December 2007 until April 2009.
According to court documents, between approximately 2005 and 2008, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Reserves and the National Guard Bureau entered into contracts with Document and Packaging Broker Inc., to administer recruiting bonus programs designed to offer monetary incentives to U.S. soldiers who referred others to join the U.S. military. In addition, the Army managed its own recruiting programs to offer bonuses to soldiers who referred other individuals to join the Army or the Army Reserves.
Through these recruiting programs, a participating soldier could receive up to $2,000 in bonus payments for every person he referred to join the U.S. military. 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.
Bibb admitted that, between approximately September 2007 and February 2010, he participated with others in a scheme to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses. Bibb admitted that he paid certain active duty recruiters and another individual for the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers. Bibb also admitted that he used this information to claim that he was responsible for referring certain potential soldiers to join the military, when in fact he did not refer them to join. As a result of his fraudulent representations, Bibb personally received a total of approximately $35,000 in fraudulent recruiting bonuses. In addition, Bibb admitted that he and certain active duty recruiters helped U.S. soldiers establish online accounts to enable the soldiers to participate in the fraudulent bonus scheme.
Bibb admitted that, in total, he and his co-conspirators obtained at least approximately $205,000 in fraudulent recruiting bonuses.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 25, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery in San Antonio.
The case against Bibb 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 scheme to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses. To date, the investigation has led to charges against seven individuals, four of whom have pleaded guilty.
On Jan. 28, 2010, Sergeant Ernest Gonzales, 50, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Biery to a one-count criminal information charging him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud for his role in the scheme. Gonzales has not yet been sentenced.
On Nov. 3, 2011, Castro pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Biery to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to court documents, Castro admitted that he participated with others in the scheme to defraud the Army’s recruiting bonus programs. Castro has not yet been sentenced.
On Jan. 26, 2012, Torres-Alvarez pleaded guilty before Chief Judge Biery to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. According to court documents, Torres-Alvarez, an active duty recruiter, admitted that he sold the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers to others involved in the scheme. Torres-Alvarez has not yet been sentenced.
The case against Bibb’s co-defendants – Aves, Escobar and Garcia – is scheduled for trial on April 23, 2012, in San Antonio. These defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.