Courts & Crime

National Guard Bureau to investigate California incentive payment fraud

The federal agency that oversees funding for the California National Guard said Tuesday it has launched an examination of its nationwide procedures for detecting fraud in recruiting-incentive payments.

The move was in response to a Bee report Sunday that the Guard gave as much as $100 million to soldiers who didn't qualify for the incentives, according to federal auditor documents. The program is the subject of a criminal investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We take this very seriously, we are going to take a look at the broader processes across the entire National Guard," said Jack Harrison, spokesman for the National Guard Bureau, which oversees federal funds given to state Guard organizations.

The Guard is a state agency funded primarily by federal taxpayers.

The commanding officer of the National Guard Bureau, Gen. Craig R. McKinley, assigned "his closest advisers," Harrison said, "to take a look at the policies and procedures surrounding this (incentives) program." He declined to comment about the California allegations due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

The Bee report, based in part on a review of thousands of documents created or discovered by federal auditors, described allegations that incentive funds were dispensed like a slush fund to hundreds of soldiers – many of them officers, including Guard recruiters – with fabricated paperwork, scant supervision and little regard for the law.

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