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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Arizona Guardsmen Cheated U.S., State Says

(CN) - Arizona says 21 members of its Air National Guard who flew drone missions over Iraq and Afghanistan defrauded the country of $1.4 million.

The indictments accuse 21 members of the 214th Reconnaissance Group based in Tucson of submitting false records for temporary duty disbursements, which are paid to members of the military who must travel away from home to complete their duties.

Between 2007 and 2010, many of the accused allegedly took home more than $100,000 by saying they lived outside of Tucson, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said.

The indictments charge eight officers and 13 enlisted members of the 214th Reconnaissance Group, which was created in 2007 to fly MQ-1B Predator drone over Iraq and Afghanistan. Included among the accused is the group's former commander, retired Col. Gregg Davies

"Some of these men and women received benefits in excess of 4 and 5-times their salaries in temporary duty entitlements," Horne said. "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."

Davies' attorney, Lee Stein, told the Arizona Republic that his client was surprised by the criminal charges.

"Colonel Davies has served his country for over 31 years with dignity and honor fighting the Global War on Terror from Tucson," Stein told the newspaper in an email. "In light of his history of distinguished service, this indictment is both disappointing and bewildering."

The Arizona Republic first revealed alleged corruption in the National Guard in a series of articles last year. In recent months, Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar retired as Guard commander.

It reported Monday that "the Republic articles documented a systemic patchwork of criminal and unethical conduct that included sexual abuse, embezzlement, drug-dealing, fraternization, cronyism and failure to discipline," which were "corroborated in May by a Pentagon agency investigation conducted at the urging of Gov. Jan Brewer."

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