A pair of Army National Guard recruiters and a recruiting assistant, today, learned their fate for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in performance bonuses.
"In a simpler time, there was no organization more respected than the U.S. military," Federal Judge Fred Biery sighed. "Now, we're getting people stealing. People are sexually assaulting women at Lackland (Air Force base). Sometimes I think the analogies to the fall of the Roman Empire are getting closer and closer."
At the height of the war on terror, the government was attempting to get as many people in uniform as possible. National Guard members were given bonuses for every person they referred. When recruiting assistants checked off, pre-paid debit cards were handed out.
In San Antonio, Sgt. Rafael Acosta and Staff Sgt. Jermaine Britt conspired with assistants, to game the system. Since they already had access to private info, they would make it look like people who signed up on their own were actually recruited. The cash was then split with the assistants, who fudged the paperwork.
Today, Staff Sgt. Britt was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on the charges of Bribery and Obstruction of Justice. His assistant, Stephanie Heller, was given five years probation. Not only did she wear a wire for the government, but she also repaid the ill-gotten gains.
"She succumb to the temptation," her attorney, Roy Barrera tells 1200 WOAI news.
Sgt. Acosta, who paid back half of the $35,000 he illegally obtained, was also given five years probation with the promise that he continue to pay several hundred dollars a month.
Judge Biery scolded that taxpayers are already beleaguered, and thefts like this only make it more difficult, referencing budget cuts called sequester.
"We're going to have to let people go. If all this money was not stolen, we might not have to let clerks go."