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21 members of Tucson Air Guard unit indicted on fraud charges

TUCSON, Ariz. — A colonel and 20 other members of an Arizona Air National Guard unit based in Tucson have been indicted on charges they defrauded the government out of $1.4 million.

Attorney General Tom Horne announced today the 21 members who served in the 214th Reconnaissance Group of the Arizona Air National Guard will face charges stemming from an 18-month investigation that concluded eight officers and 13 enlisted personnel intentionally falsified records.

The 214th operates Predator drones in Iraq and Afghanistan from Tucson.

There have been no arrests in the case, but the guardsmen are scheduled to appear in court Friday.

Many allegedly received more than $100,000 by claiming they lived in homes outside the Tucson area while on federal active duty status at various times between November 2007 and September 2010, officials said.

“Some of these men and women received benefits in excess of four and five-times their salaries in temporary duty entitlements,” Horne said in a news release. "Conversely, our brave men and women overseas were making pennies on the dollar compared to what this group was receiving while still going home to their families each night.”

A former commander of the 214th is alleged to have overseen the fraud, Horne said.

Col. Gregg Davies provided assistance by using his position “to circumvent measures that were supposed to prevent unauthorized temporary duty entitlements when military members are neither deployed nor away for training from their home,” the attorney general’s news release said.

In addition to the Attorney General’s Office, the FBI, the Air Force, the Arizona National Guard, and the Air National Guard participated in the investigation.

Horne said his office got involved in the probe after FBI asked him to intervene when the case only involved two guardsmen and the federal prosecutor's office declined to pursue charges. The state investigation uncovered a much larger problem, he said.

Horne said the investigation is ongoing but he would not say if more guardsmen could be facing charges.

The airmen have not been arrested, but have received summonses. Arraignment is set for Friday in Tucson.
 

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