ADAMS COUNTY - 9Wants to Know has learned the U.S. government is expanding its nationwide investigation into widespread fraud involving National Guard soldiers who were allegedly stealing tax payer money through recruiting fraud. Four men from Colorado have been charged and even more could face prosecution.
"This criminal fraud investigation is one of the largest that the army has ever conducted both in sheer numbers of fraud and the number of participants," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said in Congress on Feb. 4.
9Wants to Know has learned the scandal may involve thousands of soldiers who were not recruiters. An audit revealed the soldiers were illegally obtaining stolen names and social security numbers of people, including some who visited guard offices.
After putting the names into the recruitment software and marking them as enlisted they were paid bonuses of sometimes more than $2,000 per name entered.
The government stopped the use of the recruiting software following the audit but not before millions of dollars in bonus may have been illegally obtained.
Christopher Clark of Aurora is charged in Adams County. He's accused of collecting $28,000 in bonuses. A family member told 9NEWS we should "go away" and not to come back to ask what happened to the money.
Jerry Wilson, of Thornton, is accused of stealing $43,000 in bogus bonuses. He declined to comment.
Luke Peelgrane, of Denver, is accused of fraudulently collecting $12,000 in bonus money. His attorney told us his client is "absolutely innocent."
Adams County District Attorney Dave Young says cases like these are important to prosecute because we need to trust our public servants with our money.
"It is taxpayer dollars, which aggravates the crimes a little bit because there is a lot of trust and faith that is lost with people who work for the government."
The Colorado National Guard says it's cooperating with the investigation. They stress that most of their members serve honorably.