California Army National Guard Member Pleads Guilty to Charges of Recruiting Fraud
FRESNO, CA—Leonardo Pesta, 47, of Mountain View, pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud stemming from a fraud scheme involving recruiting bonuses, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, the United States Army contracted with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (DOCUPAK) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP). Under G-RAP, members of the California National Guard served as Recruiting Assistants. If a Recruiting Assistant referred a potential Guard member to a recruiting office and that person ultimately enlisted, the Recruiting Assistant was eligible to receive monetary compensation disbursed by DOCUPAK.
Pesta served in the California National Guard as a recruiter. In that position, he had access to names of recruits who had not been referred by any Recruiting Assistant. Pesta pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme to cause DOCUPAK to issue unearned recruiting compensation by falsely claiming that various enlistees had been referred to recruiting offices by the Recruiting Assistants that participated in the scheme with Pesta, when in fact they had not.
This case is the product of an ongoing investigation by the Army Criminal Investigative Command Major Procurement Fraud Unit, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Michael G. Tierney is prosecuting the case.
Pesta is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on October 19, 2015. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Six other National Guard members were also indicted in May 2014 in Fresno and Sacramento. Brian Kaps, 40, of Chico, pleaded guilty on November 21, 2014 to one count of wire fraud. Sarah Nattress, 27, of Paradise, pleaded guilty on October 23, 2014, to one count of wire fraud. The charges against the rest of the defendants are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.