Eight California National Guard members have been indicted on a charge of falsely claiming recruits in exchange for recruitment bonuses, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The alleged fraud was carried out by current and former recruiting assistants who together received more than $200,000 in bonuses, according to Thursday's indictment.

One of the recruiters implicated in the alleged scam is Leonardo Pesta, 46, of Mountain View, who the DOJ claims received $20,000 in fraudulent bonuses. Other recruiters were based in Elk Grove, Chico, Fresno and San Diego.

"The Army National Guard trusted the individuals indicted today to attract and assist others through the recruiting process, and compensated them for these efforts," said Monica Miller, a special agent with the FBI. "Instead, the recruiting assistants are alleged to have stolen federal funds by circumventing established processes, claiming recruitment of individuals whom they often had never met, and in some cases, diverting portions of the payments to others who are prohibited from receiving the funds."

Recruiters received $1,000 when someone enlisted and another $1,000 when that person went to basic training. If convicted, the defendants each face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of wire fraud.


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