Jury Finds Butte County Man Guilty of National Guard Recruiting Fraud
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After an eight-day trial, a federal jury found Steel A. Davis, 45, of Chico, guilty today of all eight counts of wire fraud in a scheme to obtain bonuses for referring individuals to enlist in the California National Guard, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, the United States Army contracted with a company called Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (DOCUPAK) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP). Under G-RAP, members of the California National Guard served as Recruiting Assistants. If a Recruiting Assistant referred a potential Guard member to a recruiting office and that person ultimately enlisted, the Recruiting Assistant was eligible to receive a $1,000 payment when a person enlisted and a second $1,000 payment when the recruit left for boot camp.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, Davis was a recruiter with the California National Guard and was ineligible to participate in the G-RAP program. Davis, however, realizing the potential to make money through G-RAP, gave recruits’ information to his co‑conspirators who had signed up to be Recruiting Assistants. The RAs would then file false claims with DOCUPAK that they had referred the recruits to join the Guard when, in fact, the recruits had joined on their own initiative. When the compensation was received, Davis split the proceeds of the fraud with the Recruiting Assistants.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Army Criminal Investigative Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew G. Morris and Katherine T. Lydon prosecuting the case.
Davis is scheduled to be sentenced on May 10, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley. Davis faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Other National Guard members and recruiters have been charged in similar schemes in the Eastern District of California. The following defendants have been convicted:
- 2:14-cr-153 TLN — Brian Kaps, 44, of Chico, pleaded guilty on November 21, 2014, to one count of wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2018.
- 2:14-cr-152 TLN — Sarah Nattress, 30, of Paradise, pleaded guilty on October 23, 2014, to one count of wire fraud. She is scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2018.
- 1:14-cr-107 DAD — Leonardo Pesta, 49, of Mountain View, pleaded guilty on July 27, 2015, to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to two years of probation.
- 1:14-cr-108-LJO — Nicholas Huerta, 36, of Fresno, pleaded guilty on September 14, 2015, to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to four years of probation.
- 2:14-cr-151 JAM — Richard C. Sihner, 55, of Elk Grove, was convicted on January 22, 2016, of 18 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements following a seven-day jury trial and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
- 1:14-cr-106 DAD — Joaquin Cuenca, 40, of San Diego, was convicted on February 1, 2016, of three counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements following a seven-day jury trial. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
- 1:14-cr-109-LJO — Jimmy D. Maldonado, 37, and Mayra L. Maldonado, 31, both of Fresno, were each convicted by a jury on January 29, 2018, of three counts of wire fraud after a four-day trial. They are scheduled to be sentenced on April 23, 2018.
- 2:18-cr-12 TLN — Jason M. Hair, of Paradise, pleaded guilty on January 18, 2018, to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 12, 2018.