Max P. Andolsek, 52, of Tullahoma, pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. district court to conspiracy to defraud the Department of Defense, according to David Rivera, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Andolsek, a former recruiting assistant for the Air National Guard, and two other individuals, were indicted July 17. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
“Our nation’s men and women who are considering serving their country through enlistment in the military deserve to be dealt with candidly and with honesty,” said Rivera. “Recruiters are the first faces of the military seen by many considering service. Those who attempt to profit financially by fraudulently manipulating our nation’s recruitment programs undermine their effectiveness, particularly when we are experiencing lean financial times for our nation’s defense. All attempts to defraud our nation’s military will be vigorously pursued by this office and our law enforcement partners.”
According to evidence presented at the plea hearing, between December 2006 and July 2009, Andolsek conspired with Aaron L. Osborne, a full-time Air National Guard recruiter, to make materially false statements or representations to the Department of Defense in order to embezzle money from the Air National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program.
“Recruitment into the United States Military should be about service to one’s country and not service to one’s wallet,” said A. Todd McCall, special agent in charge of the Memphis Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “This plea is the result of the efforts of the FBI and our law enforcement partners to investigate and bring to justice any who would commit blatant and outrageous fraud against the United States.”
Andolsek admitted to the Court that he had contracted with Document and Packaging Brokers, Inc., a U.S. Department of Defense contractor, to administer the G-RAP Program, which was designed to allow airmen, officers, and retirees of the Air National Guard to voluntarily serve as recruiting assistants. To participate in the G-RAP Program these individuals were required to complete an online application. Recruiting assistants were selected by Docupak from the pool of applicants and then received online training, including instruction as to eligibility to serve, financial issues, Air Force core values, and ethics.
The G-RAP Program was also designed to encourage recruiting assistants to reach out in their communities to find qualified individuals, who were not already working with a full time recruiter, to become Air National Guard Airmen. Once a recruiting assistant identified a qualified potential airman, they would enter the information into the G-RAP website. If the person actually enlisted in the Air National Guard, a $1,000 pre-loaded Visa card would be mailed to the recruiting assistant.
Under the program regulations, full time and temporary Air National Guard recruiters were not eligible to participate in the G-RAP initiative and to be eligible to receive payment, recruiting assistants had to be the first contact with a potential airman.
G-RAP program regulations also prohibited payments being split with a full time or temporary recruiter.
At his plea hearing, Andolsek admitted that Osborne, a full-time recruiter, was the first to receive the contact information of various potential airmen and then supplied that information to Andolsek. Andolsek would then enter the information on the Docupak website and receive a $1,000 payment loaded onto a Visa card each time. Whenever Andolsek made a subsequent entry that one of the potential airmen had started boot camp, he received an additional $1,000 payment loaded to the Visa card. Most of the times that Andolsek received a $1,000 payment, he paid $300 of the proceeds to Osborne.
Andolsek will be sentenced on Oct. 10. Provisions outlined in the plea agreement require that Andolsek make restitution in the amount of at least $14,000.
Aaron Osborne and co-defendant Arvalon Michelle Harleston, both from Clarksville, are scheduled for trial on Sept. 23, before U.S. District Court Judge Kevin H. Sharp.
An indictment is merely an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. attorney Kathryn Ward Booth represents the government.