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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Mississippi

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 24, 2014

Twelve Ms Army National Guard Soldiers Indicted

Jackson, Miss -    Twelve current or former Mississippi Army National Guard soldiers have been indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in defrauding the Mississippi Army National Guard’s Recruiter Assistance Program (“GRAP”) which provided financial incentives to enlisted soldiers for assisting in recruiting potential soldiers into the Mississippi Army National Guard, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis announced today. 

Antonio L. Hales, 40, of Laurel; Tyrone Strickland, 46, of Pachuta;  Ralph Smith, III, 33, of Soso; William David Middleton, 36, of Raleigh;  Michael Joseph McNeil, 49, of Louin; Crystal A. Mayers, 32, of West Point;  James Anthony Holder, 49, of Bay Springs; Esau Moffett, 27, of Hattiesburg;  and Kaya T. Durr, 36, of Hattiesburg are all charged  with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to steal government funds, conspiracy to commit identity theft, and theft of government funds.  The indictment alleges that Hales, McNeil and Moffett provided the personal identification information of recruited soldiers to the other co-defendants for the purpose of filing false GRAP claims.  Strickland, Smith, Middleton, Holder, Mayers and Durr falsely represented that they assisted in the recruitment of certain potential soldiers when they had not actually assisted in the recruitment.  According to the indictment, the conspiracy began in January 2006 and continued until February 2011.  

In a separate indictment, Jamie E. Jackson, 43, of Mendenhall, is charged with six counts of theft of government funds and six counts of wire fraud; and Byron J. Collins, 24, of New Hebron, is charged with making a false statement.  The indictment alleges that Jackson, a National Guard Captain, obtained GRAP incentive payments to which he was not entitled because he was a commissioned officer.   Byron J. Collins is alleged to have made a false statement to a U.S. Secret Service Agent who was investigating the case when he told the Agent that he had received the GRAP incentive payments when, in actuality, Jamie E. Jackson had received the payments.   

A third indictment charges Roshanna Edwards, 43, of Lumberton, with theft of government funds.  Edwards is alleged to have received $10,000 in GRAP incentive payments to which she was not entitled. 

The Guard Recruiter Assistance Program (GRAP) provided financial incentives to enlisted soldiers for assisting in recruiting potential soldiers into the Mississippi Army National Guard.  All enlisted soldiers were eligible to receive incentive payments through the GRAP, except for soldiers whose primary job assignment was recruitment.  Commissioned Officers were not eligible to participate in the GRAP. A soldier would receive $1,000 for the enlistment of each potential solider he or she assisted in recruiting to the National Guard.  The soldier would receive an additional $1,000 when the potential soldier graduated from basic training.

The statutory maximum penalties faced by the defendants are: five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for conspiracy, ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for theft of government funds, five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for making a false statement, and twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine per count for wire fraud.    

The charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from a person or an organization soliciting relief funds on behalf of storm victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud toll free at:

(866) 720-5721

You can also fax information to:

(225) 334-4707

or e-mail it to:

disaster@leo.gov


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