Three of the nearly two dozen current and former members of the Arizona Air National Guard who are accused in a $1.4 million scam to defraud the federal government have pleaded not guilty.
The first three defendants made their initial court appearances Oct. 25 in Pima County Superior Court before hearing officer Roger Duncan. The Arizona Daily Star reported that arraignments for the remaining defendants are set for Nov. 26.
Eight officers and 13 enlisted men and women, including the colonel and former commander of the 214 Reconnaissance Group, were indicted earlier this week on charges that included conspiracy, conducting an illegal enterprise, fraud, theft and money laundering.
The Arizona attorney general’s office is accusing the defendants of falsifying records and using fake home addresses to receive money meant for those traveling outside their home regions for duty assignments.
Between November 2007 and September 2010, authorities said some of the defendants took home salaries that were up to five times the amount they should have been receiving.
Some of the suspects defrauded the government of more than $100,000 each, Attorney General Tom Horne has said.
The indictment casts Gregg Davies, one of the defendants who appeared in court Friday, as the key player in the alleged scheme. He’s facing dozens of counts.
ìThere are two sides to any story, and we look forward to telling Colonel Davies’ side of the story,î his attorney, Flynn Carey, told KNXV-TV.
The indictment announced Oct. 21 comes after an 18-month investigation by state and federal agencies.
Only eight of those charged remain members of the National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Michael T. McGuire, adjutant general of the Arizona National Guard, said the allegations were being taken seriously, but he declined to discuss specifics of the case.
If convicted, some of the defendants could be sentenced to up to 12 1/2 years in prison. Authorities said the commander could face more serious charges over using his position of power to allegedly help facilitate the scam. AP