Crime - Sacto 911

Chico man convicted of fraud in National Guard recruiting scheme

A Chico man has been convicted for participating in a National Guard recruiting fraud scheme.

After an eight-day trial, a federal jury in Sacramento found Steel A. Davis, 45, guilty of eight counts of wire fraud in a scheme to obtain bonuses for referring people to enlist in the California National Guard, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

The U.S. Army contracted with a company, Document and Packaging Broker Inc., or DOCUPAK, to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program. Under the program, members of the California National Guard served as recruiting assistants. If a recruiting assistant referred a potential guard member to a recruiting office and that person enlisted, the recruiting assistant was eligible to receive a $1,000 payment at the time of enlistment and a second $1,000 payment when the recruit left for boot camp, according to the news release.

Davis, as a recruiter with the California National Guard, was not eligible to participate in the program. However, in a money-making scheme, he gave recruits’ information to his co-conspirators, who had signed up to be recruiting assistants. The recruiting assistants then filed false claims with DOCUPAK, indicating that they had referred the recruits to the National Guard, when the recruits had joined on their own initiative, the news release said.

When compensation was received, Davis split the proceeds with the recruiting assistants, according to the news release.

Davis is to be sentenced May 10 by U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office reported that other National Guard members and recruiters have been charged in similar schemes in the Eastern district of California:

  • Brian Kaps, 44, of Chico, pleaded guilty on Nov. 21, 2014, to one count of wire fraud and is to be sentenced Feb. 22.
  • Sarah Nattress, 30, of Paradise, pleaded guilty on Oct. 23, 2014, to one count of wire fraud and is to be sentenced Feb. 22.
  • Leonardo Pesta, 49, of Mountain View, pleaded guilty on July 27, 2015, to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to two years of probation.
  • Nicholas Huerta, 36, of Fresno, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and was sentenced to four years of probation.
  • Robert C. Sihner, 55, of Elk Grove, was convicted on Jan. 22, 2016, of 18 counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements following a seven-day jury trial and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
  • Joaquin Cuenca, 40, of San Diego, was convicted on Feb. 1, 2016, following a seven-day jury trial, of three counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
  • Jimmy D. MaldonadoCQ, 37, and Mayra L. Maldonado, 31, both of Fresno, were each convicted Monday, after a four-day jury trial, of three counts of wire fraud. They are to be sentenced April 23.
  • Jason M. Hair of Paradise, whose age was not listed, pleaded guilty on Jan. 18 to one count of wire fraud and one count of making false statements. He is to be sentenced April 12.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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