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Feds: 7 charged in Army National Guard recruitment kickback scheme

Manhattan federal prosecutors Wednesday charged seven New York-area Army National Guard officers with engaging in a recruitment kickback scheme.

Two salaried National Guard recruiters, Evette Merced and Darryl Harrison, allegedly passed information on potential recruits to soldiers who were eligible to collect bonuses of up to $2,000 for identifying recruiting prospects, and then split the take with them.

A criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan indicated that information on at least 60 potential recruits may have been passed to soldiers who had signed up as so-called “recruiting assistants” to collect the bonus payments, and at least $62,000 was paid for the phony recruiting leads.

The complaint said that Harrison worked out of the Army Guard’s Brooklyn and Queens recruiting offices, and Merced, his wife, worked out of the Army’s Bronx recruiting office. As salaried recruiters, the complaint said, neither was eligible for any bonus payments.

Merced and Harrison, of East Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, both are now sergeants. They were released on bail after a court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

The five soldiers named in the complaint are also now sergeants. One was identified as NYPD Officer Jefferson Simbanamuzo of the Bronx. Four were released on bail in New York, and one, Yesania Adames of the Bronx, was arrested in Virginia and detained after a bail hearing there.

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