Guardsmen plead guilty in bonus scam

| September 5, 2013

Four former and current National Guardsmen pleaded guilty in almost a quarter-million dollar scam to defraud the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP) which paid bonuses as enticement to attract folks to enlist according to the Department of Justice;

Melanie D. Moraida, 33, of Pearland, Texas; Kimberly N. Hartgraves, 28, of League City, Texas; Lashae C. Hawkins, 27, of San Antonio; and Vanessa Phillips, 35, of Houston, all pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery.


Moraida, Hartgraves, Hawkins and Phillips all admitted that they paid Army National Guard recruiters for the names and Social Security numbers of potential Army National Guard soldiers. They further admitted that they used the personal identifying information for these potential soldiers in claiming that they were responsible for referring the potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when in fact they had not referred them.

As a result of these fraudulent representations, Moraida collected approximately $14,500 in fraudulent bonuses; Hartgraves collected approximately $2,000 in fraudulent bonuses; Hawkins collected approximately $33,000 in fraudulent bonuses; and Phillips collected approximately $10,000 in fraudulent bonuses.

The charge of bribery carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss. The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain or loss.

They are scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Category: Dumbass Bullshit, National Guard

Comments (13)

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  1. Sig says:

    The GRAP scheme practically begged to be abused. I distinctly recall being encouraged to sign up for this voluntary program–as in, nobody goes home until we have 100%. Never mind that 1/3 of us were on full-time orders and not eligible to participate anyway.

  2. Eric says:

    Same with the ARAP (Army Reserve), just begging to be abused. But, looking at those monetary figures, I can’t see how they think that’s worth 20 years in prison. We got 100% enrolled too, because you know, more recruiters on the street = more recruits right? NOT!

    I did the SMART program (SMA Recruiting Team) once or twice, but in that case it was just a coin and a certificate. I’m happy with that and content.

    At least they won’t have to worry about how they’ll make money for a few years, 3 hots and a cot!

  3. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Wait a second. “In another related but separate indictment also unsealed on Aug. 9, 2013, Jammie T. Martin, 36, and Michelle H. Davis, 32, both of Katy, Texas; and Danielle V. Applin, 27, of Harker Heights, Texas, were charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.”

    “In a separate indictment unsealed on Aug. 9, 2013, Zaunmine O. Duncan, 37, of Austin, Texas, was charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and witness tampering.”

    “In addition, in the last three weeks, Melanie D. Moraida, 33, of Pearland, Texas; Elisha M. Ceja, 26, of Barboursville, W.Va.; Kimberly N. Hartgraves, 28, of League City, Texas; Lashae C. Hawkins, 27, of San Antonio; Annika S. Chambers, 27, of Houston; and Vanessa Phillips, 35, of Houston….”

    Okay, I see a pattern. We have Jammie, Michelle, Danielle, Melanie, Elisha, Kimberly, Lashae, Annika, and Vanessa. Then there’s Zaunmine (!) Duncan but I can’t tell whether that’s a man’s name. Is this a gender-based crime?

  4. OIF '06-'07-'08 says:

    @1 I remember the same thing with my guard unit back in the spring of ’06. It was same spiel of 100% or nobody goes home also, but at that time the GRAP was paying $2,000.00 per successful referral. I was able to get two prior enlisted into the Guard, they both got a $15,000.00 reup bonus, and I did get $4,000.00 for it, and I do remember that it was tax free.

  5. 68W58 says:

    I got two GRAP enlistees, but one was a relative who had been a Marine and wanted back in, so it’s not like I really worked that hard at it. There were a lot of things wrong with the program (as the story above demonstrates), but I do think it motivated guard members to help with recruiting during a time that any military service was a tough sell.

  6. USMCE8Ret says:

    For you former recruiter types, were you on a quarterly mission or was it monthly? (In other words, did you have to put “X” number of bodies on contract by a certain date? When I was “on the bag”, we had to have contracts completed by a phase line date).

  7. USMCE8Ret says:

    …I ask because I don’t know how the other services really approach it.

  8. Stacy0311 says:

    my former XO from Iraq is one of the people indicted. He tried to get me to play the game referring to it as “easy money”. I seem to remember him saying he made over $200,000 and paid cash for a Corvette. Seemed a little shady to me so I didn’t get involved. this is also the same guy who had us write statements to try and get a CAB for rockets that landed about 50~100 meters from our TOC……….

  9. NHSparky says:

    @6–I was a regular/NF recruiter, and it was a monthly goal, but we also had annual goals too from a District standpoint: so many DEP, shippers, UMG’s, nukes, etc.

    But from a regular “bag toter” recruiter standpoint, it was monthly. Hero to zero, as it went. And usually the field recruiters were tagged with a PPR of at least 2 a month, but if you weren’t putting in 3-4 you could expect the RINC and Zone Sup to be riding your ass.

    That meant that recruiters were going to go after the low-hanging fruit towards the 28th of the month, and screw nuke goal. I’d be surprised if we made goal 6-7 months out of the year, and we never made more than 80-85 percent of nuke goal, for various reasons.

  10. USMCE8Ret says:

    Thanks, Sparky. I’ve often wondered how the other services fared.

    We rolled pretty good numbers and regularly “closed out” early. Others in our district would hold off on their Tier III applicants and hard waivers, and drop them at the end of the month with a ship date. That always made the Area SNCOIC happy, as long as they shipped and stayed out of trouble. I hated area canvassing. Almost NEVER saw the USAF or Coast Guard recruiters in their office. The Navy and Army guys always seemed to work late. Our office was pretty productive. Lots of walk-in traffic, only to find they were DQ’d by the other services.

  11. CaS6 says:

    Huh, I’m still waiting for my GRAP payment from 2010, I wonder how these fraudsters got theirs so quickly.

  12. AverageNCO says:

    Ahhhh, GRAP. A term I had not heard in a few years, and I sure don’t miss. It was the bane of my existence trying to be a regular Air Force recruiter, in the same town as a giant National Guard training base. I once had an Army Guard Captain show up to my office with a truckload of Mexican day labor workers from the Home Depot next door. When I told him regular Air Force didn’t have a monetary RAP program, he piled them back in his truck to take them to some other office. My biggest problem with it was a guidance counselor at one of my bigger high schools. The guy held a PhD, but was in E4 in the Air National Guard. He started his own private JROTC program at this high school he called “Delta”. He steered every kid at this school to the Air Guard. He actually handled their initial case files for MEPS and drove them to and drom MEPS himself. He would put 10-15 kids every year in the Air Guard, and get paid cash for doing it. Conflict of interest anyone? The I.G. said no, drove me nuts.