California Army National Guard Member Pleads Guilty to Charges of Recruiting Fraud
FRESNO, CA—Nicholas Huerta, 33, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to one count of wire fraud for a fraud scheme involving military 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.
Huerta 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. Huerta pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme that caused DOCUPAK to issue compensation that was not earned by claiming that various enlistees had been referred by Recruiting Assistants 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.
“As today’s guilty plea shows, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and its law enforcement partners will continue to identify and investigate those individuals who seek to defraud the U.S. taxpayer,” said Special Agent In Charge Chris D. Hendrickson, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Western Field Office. “Any individual, regardless of position, who attempts to prosper at the expense of the American taxpayer, will be brought to justice.”
“The California National Guard has fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command regarding these matters, and will continue to do so moving forward, as we expect any who contradict the California National Guard’s core values to be held accountable,” said Capt. Will Martin, Public Affairs Officer for the California Military Department.
Huerta is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on December 7, 2015. Huerta 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.
Seven other National Guard members have been charged in six separate indictments for their roles in similar recruiting‑fraud scheme 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, and Leonardo Pesta, 47, of Mountain View, pleaded guilty on July 27, 2015, to one count of wire fraud. The pending charges against the remaining four defendants are only allegations; they are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.