From 2000 to 2010, thousands of California National Guard members improperly or illegally received enlistment incentive payments. Guard audits to date have found that at least 115 service members – most of them officers – committed fraud or acted improperly.

As the dark steel arm of the excavator hung in the air – its claw clamped firmly around a mass of debris – retired Col. John Scully shielded his eyes from the afternoon sun.

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Lt. Col. David Kauffman on Wednesday as the first independent inspector general of the California Military Department, which includes the National Guard.

The inspector general of the state's Military Department will have more independence and National Guard members who blow the whistle on misconduct will have more protections under a bill Gov. Jerry Bill signed Friday.

The state Legislature approved a bill Friday that would increase independence for the inspector general of the California Military Department, which includes the National Guard, and augment protections for Guard members or employees who become whistle-blowers.

Three California Army National Guard captains pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fraud Tuesday in cases involving incentive payments in return for service commitments. Each faces up to a year in prison, fines and restitution of funds stolen.

The California National Guard benefits manager at the center of a massive fraud involving thousands of improper payments to Guard members was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday.

California has a new, high-tech tool to fight forest fires, find lost or missing persons and derail drug cartels' efforts to grow and transport illegal substances in the state.

The Senate on Monday unanimously confirmed Gov. Jerry Brown's pick to lead the state Military Department, Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin.

The California Senate Rules Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to confirm Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Gov. Jerry Brown's nominee to head the California Military Department, which includes the National Guard.

Twelve California National Guard pilots have been disciplined for improper dual compensation – more than one day of pay for a single day of work – at the Fresno-based 144th Fighter Wing.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Senate Bill 806 Friday, which increases the period for recouping funds improperly received by state employees in the National Guard from three to six years. The law takes effect immediately.

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation to give the governor the power to appoint an independent inspector general to oversee the California Military Department.

Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, a former leader of the California National Guard, told Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday that he would have repaid funds he owed the state due to excess pay received as adjutant general, but he was not offered an adequate way to dispute the amount billed.

A recent federal audit has found that from 2005 to 2010, millions of dollars in improper and possibly fraudulent incentive payments were made to California National Guard members who were also federal civil servants for the Guard.

Maj. Gen. William H. Wade II, who led the California National Guard from 2005 until early last year, was summarily removed Wednesday from active service as a Guard member.

General William H. Wade II, who led the California National Guard from 2005 until early last year, was removed from active service as a Guard member Wednesday.

National Guard officials knew one of their recruiters was a sex offender and kept him in the job anyway.

A year-long federal criminal investigation into recruiting and retention incentive payments to California Army National Guard members yielded its first results recently when retired Master Sgt. Toni Jaffe pleaded guilty to filing false claims of $15.2 million. She faces up to five years in prison and could be responsible for full restitution of those funds.

Adjutant General David S. Baldwin returned in April from a tour of duty in Afghanistan to lead the California National Guard – and inherited a force plagued by mismanagement and freighted with scandal.

The California state controller has demanded that two former top leaders of the state National Guard remit substantial sums in "double-dip" earnings – two days' pay for a single day of work – received improperly while in office.

The California National Guard's former bonus and incentives manager has admitted submitting $15.2 million in false and fraudulent claims to the United States Department of Defense.

California National Guard Adjutant General David S. Baldwin received a sharp rebuke from members of the state Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this week for a recent policy meant to clarify rules that govern Guard members' contact with elected representatives.

The California Senate Veterans Affairs Committee this week approved two bills meant to improve oversight of the state Military Department, including the National Guard.

The California National Guard's troubled 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno is undergoing sweeping changes to improve its operations and ethical culture, according to its new leader.

About 100 California National Guard members have been accused by the Guard's internal auditor of collecting fraudulent or improper pay totaling more than $500,000 from 2006 through early last year by violating dual compensation and travel expense rules.

Adjutant General David Baldwin, top commander of the California National Guard, has asked the state Department of Personnel Administration to examine pay records for his two most recent predecessors, Maj. Gens. William H. Wade II and Mary J. Kight, to determine if funds were paid to them improperly and should be recouped.

Two state senators have introduced legislation to create an independent inspector general to oversee the California Military Department, the state agency that includes the National Guard.

A top NATO general who formerly led the California National Guard enhanced his salary during his state tenure by collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in dual pay, a Bee investigation has found.

On Saturday Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Col. David Baldwin of Fair Oaks as adjutant general, the top officer for the California National Guard and the California State Military Department.

Before California Army National Guard members encounter the depredations of war, they face the deprivations of Camp Roberts.

State senators questioned California National Guard officials on Tuesday about recent financial lapses – expressing frustration about episodes of possible fraud, and concern that the problems might tarnish selfless volunteers in wartime.

Four pilots who are under criminal investigation for receiving possibly illegal payments of public funds have been appointed to key leadership posts in the California National Guard's 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno. Two former commanders, also targeted in the probe, previously were relieved of their command.

Sacramento Bee reporter Charles Piller and a former federal auditor dug deep into the California National Guard and discovered that as much as $100 million of taxpayer money may have been improperly or illegally paid out to undeserving Guard members in the form of cash bonuses or loan repayments.

They called it "dozing for dollars." Pilots with the California Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing based in Fresno had a lucrative arrangement: After their normal day jobs flying F-16 Fighting Falcon warplanes, they often grabbed shifts on alert at full pay.

State legislators questioned top officers of the California National Guard on Thursday about allegations of fraud reported by The Bee last month, involving up to $100 million in student loan repayments and cash bonuses dispensed as recruitment incentives.

The federal agency that oversees funding for the California National Guard said Tuesday it has launched an examination of its nationwide procedures for detecting fraud in recruiting-incentive payments.

For years, the California Army National Guard's incentives program operated as a slush fund, with tens of millions doled out improperly to hundreds of soldiers, according to auditors and other officials.

Barbara Kizer is one of four California guard members who have served in a select Army program in which female soldiers serve as conduits to Afghan women.

The state military faces steep challenges unwinding widespread fraud in a bonus program meant to boost troop strength

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