Oct 21, 2013 8:12 PM by Lupita Murillo
TUCSON - A shake up in the Air National Guard that's sending shock waves through the military.
The state attorney general's office indicted 21 members, including a former commander.
There are eight officers, and 13 enlisted men and women. Eight remain of those are still on active duty. Investigators say they were falsifying records to fraudulently receive extra pay.
The Attorney General's office, together with the FBI, conducted an 18 month investigation. They found nearly two dozen members of the Air National Guard defrauded the American people of $1.4 million.
They are charged with conspiracy, criminal enterprise, and money laundering . At the center of it all a former colonel, Attorney General Tom Horne says, " [the colonel]... facilitated this for 20 people underneath him. He used his position to stop the discovery and investigation of it, and he got over $100,000 himself."
Attorney General Horne says these 21 individuals were part of a unique and high profile military group responsible for flying drones over Afghanistan and Iraq. They gather the information via satellite and then send it to the troops on the ground.
Prosecutor Mike Jette says, "People put their lives in play with boots on the ground in a foreign theatre, and people who are here not putting their lives in play were making 3 to 4 times their salary in TDY benefits."
Horne makes the comparison, " People who live in Arizona, and deployed to Afghanistan they get $3.00 a day about a $1,000 a year. Here are these 21 people who live in Tucson and go home to their families every night and took over a $100,000 ."
The investigation revealed, the guardsman lived in Tucson and used out of state addresses to claim the TDY benefits. If convicted the guardsman face up to 12 years in prison. The former colonel faces more.
On Friday, the 21 Air National guardsman are scheduled to appear in a Tucson courtroom.