3 National Guard 'recruiting assistants' investigated for receiving improper payments
By Mark Brunswick | Star Tribune (Minneapolis) | Published: February 12, 2014
Three case of potential fraud involving Minnesota National Guard “recruiting assistants” are under investigation as part of a wide-ranging scandal over recruiting that has rocked the National Guard hierarchy nationwide, including two two-star generals and 18 colonels.
The recruiting scandal involves tens of millions of dollars and thousands of soldiers and has been described as one of the worst in Army history.
National Guard soldiers are accused of taking kickbacks for signing up new recruits. The scam involved the Recruiting Assistance Program, which paid soldiers and even civilians thousands of dollars for helping to enlist a new recruit.
The Minnesota National Guard has confirmed three cases in which “recruiting assistants” are under investigation for improperly receiving cash benefits for referring applicants to Guard recruiters.
Since the 2005 inception of the referral program, a total of 2,719 “recruiting assistants” received a cash payment from the Army for referring applicants to Minnesota Army National Guard recruiters, the Minnesota Guard confirmed.
The Minnesota Guard investigation reviewed all of the referrals from these recruiting assistants, and forwarded 16 cases to the National Guard Bureau in 2012 for further scrutiny. The National Guard Bureau examined the 16 cases and referred them to the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division for further investigation. Of those four cases, one was not substantiated.
“We have been working closely with military and civilian authorities to pursue prosecution and restitution where fraud was committed, and to discipline those who were negligent in their duties.” said Minnesota Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson.
Olson declined to provide further details or identify the suspects, citing the ongoing investigation.
The Minnesota Guard cases were revealed as part of documents produced in a fiery Senate hearing earlier this month into reports of pervasive fraud, abuse and mismanagement in the award and administration of the contracts for the recruiting program.
The Minnesota cases represent a small part of the recruiting payment scandal. An Army audit and other investigations found that as much as $29 million may have been wrongly paid to people who claimed to have assisted in recruitment.