September 24, 2013 — When soldiers file false claims with the government for bonuses to which they are not entitled, they violate the federal False Claims Act. The False Claims Act is the tool that allows conscientious informants to combat fraud against the government. The qui tam language of the statute provides for financial rewards to tipsters who come forward to stop fraud. Whistleblowers receive a portion of the amount the government recoups.
Texas Soldiers Plead Guilty to Bribing Recruiters as Part of Phony Military Recruiting Bonus Scam
Four Texas soldiers with the U.S. Army National Guard have pleaded guilty in a fraud and bribery scheme that resulted in a loss of over $210,000 to the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau. Vanessa Phillips, Melanie D. Moraida, Lashae C. Hawkins and Kimberly N. Hartgraves have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.
The charges relate to a wide-scale investigation of allegations that military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in Houston and San Antonio have been involved in making false claims for military recruiting bonuses. Twenty-five individuals have been charged in the operation.
According to the DOJ, in 2005, the National Guard Bureau contracted with Document and Packaging Broker, Inc. (Docupak) to run the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP), which offered bonus payments to soldiers who referred recruits to the Army National Guard. To participate, soldiers had to create online recruiting accounts.
Phillips, Moraida, Hawkins and Hartgraves have now admitted that they paid actual recruiters for the social security numbers of potential recruits and then claimed that they, themselves, had referred the recruits, who had in reality been signed up by paid military recruiters. The four then filed false claims to receive bonus payments for referring the recruits.
Sentencing is scheduled for December 17, 2013 in Houston.
False Claims Act a Powerful Tool for Fighting Fraud Against the Government
Insiders who’ve uncovered False Claims Act violations should learn about their own rights and the benefits of collaborating with the government. We understand the difficulty of notifying the government about the unethical misconduct of an employer or coworker. The experienced whistleblower lawyers at Waters & Kraus provide skilled representation to tipsters willing to do the right thing. Contact us by email or call our qui tam attorneys at 855.784.0268 to find out more about how we can protect and assist you.