The Army is reviewing the cases of nearly 2,000 current or former National Guard and Reserve soldiers targeted in a fraud investigation begun a decade ago that may have been wrongly added to a national criminal database despite never being charged with a crime.
Officials with the Army Criminal Investigation Division said Thursday the review started last summer of those involved in the Army National Guard Recruiting Assistance Program, or its smaller counterpart in the Army Reserve.
Both programs paid participants $2,000 for every successful referral who shipped to basic training.
G-RAP produced more than 130,000 recruits over seven years. The program was one of the Guard’s most successful recruiting efforts ever.
But the Army shut down both programs in 2012 after allegations of widespread fraud.
The Army then investigated the referrals from every G-RAP and AR-RAP participant who received payments after telling Congress the programs resulted in up to $100 million in dishonest payments.
Investigators fell well short of proving widespread wrongdoing.
About 140 soldiers — approximately 0.1% of those who participated in the programs — were criminally charged.
Monetarily, CID spent approximately $28 million on the investigation, according to multiple published reports, and returned less than $500,000 to the treasury.
CID now says that in more than half of the investigations reviewed, the accused were wrongly placed in one of two databases.
Many of the investigated were wrongly “indexed” to an FBI criminal database as subjects in a law-enforcement investigation, while others were placed in a Defense Department database.
While the initial review focused on about 1,900 individuals, officials said they expect the number may grow.
Besides never being charged with a crime, many of those incorrectly placed in criminal databases were never officially informed of their new status.
Multiple soldiers learned of the action only after being denied promotions, weapons permits or bank loans.
Others discovered the move after being fired for jobs after their names were uncovered in a criminal background check.
Today, Army officials want to remove the names wrongly added to both databases.
“We expect to have the majority of these investigations reviewed and corrected by the end of 2022, though a few may extend into early 2023,” said Gregory Ford, the CID director.
“Simply put, proper procedures were not always followed,” Ford continued. "We acknowledge those mistakes and are taking action to correct these records.”
Ford said he ordered a complete review of “a number of cases” that may have been wrongly indexed after receiving requests to review specific case files.
Many soldiers were additionally “titled” as part of the investigation, Army officials said.
An individual is titled when it's determined there's credible information they committed a criminal offense.
A titled person is also identified by law enforcement as the primary suspect in an investigation.
The CID review of titling actions will determine if the appropriate decisions were made about titling the affected soldiers.
According to Army officials, if CID is unable to establish in accordance with the appropriate standard that titling is warranted, the individual’s titling record will be expunged from DoD records.
But removing the names from the criminal databases will not undo the harm alone, say attorneys and other advocates for the affected.
Army officials said soldiers will be informed of the actions they can take should they believe they were harmed by being indexed.
Yet officials added each case is different, and it’s not clear how many people — if any —could receive compensation, back pay or other retroactive benefits.
The entire process could extend into 2024, Army officials said.
The Army will additionally conduct a comprehensive review of its procedures, training processes and policies to ensure that titling and indexing associated with future investigations is handled consistently with applicable laws and regulations.
That effort is expected to finish within 90 days.
Besides the cases the Army has already started reviewing, the service established a website with additional information.
Soldiers who believe they may have been improperly indexed or titled should visit https://www.cid.army.mil/crc.html to learn if their case is being reviewed or to request a review if necessary.
The Army said a response can be expected within 10 business days.