A former soldier in the U.S. Army National Guard pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud on the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Former Specialist Christopher Renfro, 26, of Houston, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Previously, on March 24, Renfro pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery in connection with the same scheme.
According to court documents, former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses. To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 23 of whom have pleaded guilty.
According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (Docupak) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP). The G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.
Through this program, a participating soldier could receive up to $2,000 in bonus payments for referring another individual to join the Army National Guard. Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account. To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.
Renfro admitted that between approximately February 2008 and August 2011, he paid former Sergeant First Class Michael Rambaran for the personal identifying information of potential Army National Guard soldiers. Renfro further admitted he used the personal information for these potential soldiers to obtain fraudulent bonuses by falsely claiming he was responsible for referring these soldiers to join the Army National Guard.
With Renfro’s plea, five individuals have now been convicted in connection with this particular charge, including Rambaran, who also pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft. Renfro, Rambaran and the others will all be sentenced Jan. 9, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston.
The cases are being investigated by the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson and Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne, Heidi Boutros Gesch and Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.