An Arizona grand jury has indicted 21 members of the Arizona Air National Guard, including a colonel, for allegedly defrauding the federal government out of more than $1.4 million, Arizona's attorney general announced Monday.
The guardsmen were part of the 214th Reconnaissance Group, which operated Predator drones over Iraq and Afghanistan from a base in Tucson, Arizona.
According to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne, between November 2007 and September 2010, the guardsmen, allegedly with knowledge and help from the unit's then-commander Col. Gregg Davies, allegedly falsified documents stating that they lived outside the Tucson area while on federal active duty at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which made them eligible for increased duty pay.
According to a release from Horne's office,Col. Davies "is alleged to have provided assistance to 20 co-defendants, using his position of authority to circumvent measures that were supposed to prevent unauthorized temporary duty entitlements when military members are neither deployed nor away for training from their home."
Some of the members allegedly pocketed more than $100,000 in pay beyond what they should have earned.
Because the alleged fraud covered time while the guardsmen were on federal active duty, no state money was involved, only federal money.
Attorney General Horne said in the release that "some of these men and women received benefits in excess of 4 and 5 times their salaries in temporary duty entitlements. Conversely, our brave men and women overseas were making pennies on the dollar compared to what this group was receiving while still going home to their families each night."
The indicted Guard members are expected to be arraigned later this week.