Houston-area guard soldiers, recruiters charged in scheme

August 16, 2013 3:39:10 PM PDT
Federal prosecutors say 14 Army National Guard soldiers and recruiters have been charged in a scheme to obtain thousands of dollars in bonuses that are awarded for signing new recruits.

Prosecutors said Friday the 14 people, some of whom are no longer serving, worked in the Houston and San Antonio areas. They are among 25 who have been charged so far in the investigation. Eleven have pleaded guilty to charges ranging from bribery and witness tampering to wire fraud.

Authorities say the defendants targeted a recruiting program that offered up to $3,000 in bonuses to soldiers who referred others to join the Guard. In one instance, a recruiter provided contact names to three others so that they could claim signing bonuses. The three then provided kickbacks to the recruiter.

The following Houston-area military service members were charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft:

Michael Rambaran, 50, of Pearland
Edia Antoine, 27, of Houston
Ernest A. Millien III, 49, of Houston
Christopher D. Renfro, 25, of Houston

In another related but separate indictment unsealed on Aug. 9, 2013, the following Houston-area military service members were charged with conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft:

Jammie T. Martin, 36, of Katy
Michelle H. Davis, 32, of Katy

According to the indictment, from February 2009 through April 2011, Martin served as an Army National Guard recruiter and Davis served as recruiting assistants with the G-RAP. According to court documents, Martin allegedly provided the personal identifiers of potential soldiers to Davis and another assistant so they could claim fraudulent recruiting referral bonus payments by falsely claiming they were responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the military. The indictment alleges Davis paid kickbacks to Martin by providing a portion of the fraudulent bonus payments.

In addition, in the last two weeks, the following Houston-area military service members also were charged in separate criminal informations with one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery:

Melanie D. Moraida, 33, of Pearlan
Kimberly N. Hartgraves, 28, of League City
Annika S. Chambers, 27, of Houston
Vanessa Phillips, 35, of Houston

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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