Courts & Crime

S.C. National Guard official charged with bribery

An active-duty South Carolina Army National Guard official has been charged with soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for steering millions of dollars worth of contracts in the National Guard’s recruitment and marketing efforts.

Jason Rappoccio, 39, of Hampton, S.C., was charged along with four retired Army National Guard officials and a civilian with running the bribery scheme, in which contracts to the former officials’ companies were awarded in exchange for cash, gifts and favors.

“The charged officials allegedly subverted the open bidding process and illegally steered millions of taxpayer dollars to the bribe-payers through marketing and advertising contracts,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell in a Wednesday announcement. “Corruption should know no place in American government, but least of all in the military that so honorably serves our country.”

Rappoccio, who began his career with the Minnesota National Guard in 1995, allegedly accepted several bribes from Timothy Bebus, 44, a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota National Guard, and his sister, Julianne Hubbell, 45.

Rappoccio, an active-duty sergeant first class stationed at South Carolina’s Fort Jackson, accepted the payments throughout 2013, when he was assigned to the Arlington, Va., offices of the National Guard Bureau. While there, Rappoccio was responsible for awarding contracts through the bureau’s advertising branch.

The bribes were in exchange for Rappoccio’s steering millions of dollars worth of National Guard marketing and recruiting contracts to Bebus’ company.

According to the Justice Department, the contracts totaled nearly $4 million and were a part of the Department of Defense’s larger budget to market and recruit new members to the National Guard.

The bribes included expensive tickets to football games and other gifts Bebus promised Rappoccio, according to court documents, including a $30,000 cash bribe that was hidden through multiple payments and cashier’s checks and transferred through several accounts.

A plea has not yet been entered by Rappoccio, but both Bebus and Hubbell pleaded guilty in September and admitted to paying the bribes to Rappoccio.

Calls to a Virginia number listed for Rappaccio were not answered.

The charges, filed Sept. 25, were a part of a larger National Guard bribery ring bust, in which over $14.5 million in marketing contracts was allegedly awarded in exchange for bribes, gifts and favors.

As of Wednesday, Rappoccio had not yet hired an attorney, according to court documents.

The arraignment is set for Oct. 10 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.