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4 Army National Guard members plead guilty in bribery, fraud schemes

Sept. 4, 2013 at 5:18 PM

HOUSTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Four Army National Guard soldiers pleaded guilty in bribery and fraud schemes to defraud the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau, the Justice Department said.

The four current and former Army National Guard members pleaded guilty Wednesday for their roles in the schemes that resulted in more than $210,000 in losses to the Army National Guard Bureau, the Justice Department said in a release.

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, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery, the Justice Department said.

The cases against the four defendants stems from an investigation into allegations that former and current military recruiters and soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas were involved in an operation to get recruiting bonuses by fraudulent means.

The four will be sentenced Dec. 17 in Houston.

To date, 15 people have pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation, the Justice Department said Wednesday in a release.

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