Two New York National Guard Soldiers Sentenced To Prison For Fraudulent Recruitment Bonus Scheme
Geoffrey S. Berman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that EVETTE MERCED, a Staff Sergeant in the New York Army National Guard, was sentenced to 36 months in prison, and her husband, DARRYL HARRISON, a Sergeant First Class in the New York Army National Guard, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, for leading a scheme designed to fraudulently obtain recruiting bonuses intended to reward those who legitimately recruited soldiers to the Army National Guard. MERCED and HARRISON pled guilty on June 16, 2017, before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV to conspiracy to commit theft of government funds and aggravated identity theft.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “While most join the military to serve their country, Evette Merced and Darryl Harrison enriched themselves by fraudulently obtaining recruiting bonuses. Today, they were sentenced to prison for defrauding the military and American taxpayers.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in related court proceedings:
In September 2005, the Army National Guard established a recruiting bonus program, referred to as the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP), administered by a private company, Document and Packaging Broker, Inc. (Docupak). The G-RAP was designed to offer referral bonus payments to Army National Guard soldiers not otherwise involved in Army National Guard recruitment efforts for civilians the soldiers successfully convinced to serve in the Army National Guard. A participating soldier, also known as a Recruiting Assistant (“RA”), could receive up to $2,000 in bonus payments for referring another individual to join. To participate in the program, a soldier was required to establish an online account in his or her name to record the referral and recruitment efforts. The RA would input the personal identifying information of each recruit into the account. Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier could then receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account. Soldiers who were themselves serving as paid recruiters for the Army National Guard as part of the National Guard’s standard recruitment program were not eligible to participate in the G-RAP or to receive a referral bonus payment, as the G-RAP was intended to be a supplement to the National Guard’s standard recruiting program.
Beginning in 2007, MERCED and HARRISON abused their positions as members of the Army National Guard then serving as full-time salaried recruiters for the Army National Guard by providing the personal identifying information of potential soldiers to various RAs in exchange for thousands of dollars in kickbacks. The RAs then used their respective online RA accounts to falsely claim that they were responsible for referring those soldiers to the New York Army National Guard. After making those false claims, those RAs received referral bonus payments totaling more than $77,000 from the G-RAP, and kicked back a significant portion of those payments to MERCED and HARRISON.
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In addition to their prison terms, MERCED, 47, and HARRISON, 53, both of Charlotte, North Carolina, were each sentenced to two years of supervised release. MERCED was also ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $28,000 and restitution in the amount of $77,000. HARRISON was ordered to pay forfeiture in the amount of $10,250 and restitution in the amount of $77,000.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Army Criminal Investigation Command.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Robert L. Boone is in charge of the prosecution.