- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Twelve current or former Mississippi Army National Guard members have been indicted in cases alleging they swindled money through a program that offers incentives for recruiting new soldiers.

Three separate indictments were filed Tuesday in federal court in Hattiesburg alleging soldiers improperly collected a total of $22,500 and that the illegal acts took place from January 2006 through February 2011.

Under the Guard Recruiter Assistance Program, any enlisted soldier who isn’t specifically assigned as a recruiter can get a bonus for helping sign up new soldiers. They get $1,000 for potential enlistees and another $1,000 when the new soldier completes basic training.

The indictments charge that people who didn’t actually help with enlistments illegally got money.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis couldn’t say Wednesday whether anyone had been arrested. It was unclear whether anyone charged had retained a lawyer.

The case marks the second time in recent years that Mississippi guard members have faced such charges.

Jimmy Jones of Crystal Springs and Tivesy Sandifer of Jackson pleaded guilty in 2012 to fraud charges, also related to taking credit for soldiers they didn’t recruit. Each was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to pay $4,000 in restitution.

One of Tuesday’s indictments charges nine people in a conspiracy. The indictment alleges that Antonio Hales, 40, of Laurel; Esau Moffett, 27, of Hattiesburg; and Michael Joseph McNeil, 49, of Louis, would obtain information on possible soldiers who came to their recruiting station.

McNeil would then enter the information on potential soldiers into the Internet accounts of six other Guard members, including Tyrone Strickland, 46, of Pachuta; Ralph Smith III, 33, of Soso; William David Middleton, 36, of Raleigh; Crystal A. Mayers, 32, of West Point; Kaya Durr, 36, of Hattiesburg; and James Anthony Holder, the indictment said. No age or hometown was released for Holder.

The charges claim each of the six improperly received $1,000 in 2010 for a soldier they didn’t recruit.

A second indictment charges that Capt. Jamie Jackson, 43, of Mendenhall, received $6,500 in 2010 that he wasn’t entitled to as an officer. Enlisted man Byron J. Collins, 24, of New Hebron, is charged with lying to a U.S. Secret Service agent in 2005. The indictment says he claimed he controlled the money when Jackson did.

Roshanna Edwards, 43, of Lumberton, is charged with receiving $10,000 to which she was not entitled between 2008 and 2011.

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