FBI agents arrested seven current members of the New York National Guard early Wednesday, including a current NYPD officer, on charges of defrauding hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federal incentive program offering cash rewards for recruiting civilians to serve in the Army National Guard, law enforcement officials say.
The 11 count-criminal complaint charges the defendants with bribery and theft of government funds relating to their alleged scheme to defraud the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, begun in 2005 and designed to offer bonus payments to Army National Guard soldiers to recruit civilians to serve in the National Guard. The program was shut down in 2012.
Under the incentive program, participating soldiers would receive $2,000 for every referred soldier who enlisted and entered basic training, court papers say.
Prosecutors say two of the defendants, Evette Merced and Darryl Harrison, were salaried military recruiters ineligible to participate in the incentive program. Merced and Harrison are accused of providing personal identifying information of potential soldiers to the other defendants who falsely claimed they had recruited the potential soldiers to the New York Army National Guard, collected the bonus payments under the program and kicked back a portion of those payments to Merced and Harrison.
One of the defendants, Jefferson Simbanamuzo, is currently a sergeant in the Army National Guard and a NYPD officer.
The defendants are expected to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Wednesday.
Information regarding defense attorneys was not available.