Four plead guilty in military recruiting bonus scams
By GUILLERMO CONTRERAS | San Antonio Express-News | Published: September 5, 2013
SAN ANTONIO -- Four current and former soldiers of the U.S. Army National Guard pleaded guilty Thursday for their roles in recruiting bonus scams that resulted in more than $210,000 in losses to the military.
Lashae C. Hawkins, 27, of San Antonio; Melanie D. Moraida, 33, of Pearland, Texas; Kimberly N. Hartgraves, 28, of League City, Texas; and Vanessa Phillips, 35, of Houston, all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.
In a wide-ranging probe, investigators found that in separate but similar schemes, current and former service members gave each other kickbacks upon claiming bonuses for "recruits" who actually had joined on their own.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston said Hawkins collected $33,000 in fraudulent bonuses; Moraida got $14,500 in fraudulent bonuses; Hartgraves collected $2,000; and Phillips got $10,000.
To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 15 of whom have pleaded guilty. Several were from San Antonio.