Couple involved in military recruiting scam arrested
MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP (WNEP) -- Federal agents arrested a couple from the Poconos Wednesday in connection with a nationwide military recruiting scandal that has led to arrests of more than 100 soldiers and cost taxpayers an estimated $30 million.
The couple live near Marshalls Creek in Monroe County, but commute to New York City and work for the New York State Army National Guard. They were the first two soldiers from Pennsylvania to be charged in what army officials call a costly recruiting scam.
Evette Merced and Darryl Harrison are both staff sergeants with the New York State National Guard. They were married last year and moved to a home at the Country Club of the Poconos in Middle Smithfield Township.
The green lights on their front porch lights show their support for troops overseas, but federal prosecutors in New York believe this couple ripped off the U.S. military from 2007 to 2011 in a recruiting scheme.
Federal investigators say hundreds of National Guard recruiters cheated the military during their efforts to boost National Guard enlistment numbers during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. Department of Defense offered recently enlisted soldiers up to $8,000 to their peers to sign up for National Guard service.
According to prosecutors, recruiters who were not eligible for the bonus, would give the names of people they have already signed up to new soldiers, and the recruiter and new soldier would split the money.
The federal indictment filed in New York City claims seven soldiers connected with the Bronx recruiting station received more than $120,000 in fraudulent bonuses, and that Darryl Harrison and Evette Merced were the recruiters behind the scheme.
The couple did not answer their door at their home near Marshalls Creek.
The New York State National Guard says that once it learned of the investigation, Merced and Harrison were removed from active recruiting and transferred to other administrative jobs in the unit.
The Army stopped the program in 2012, once it learned of the scam investigation.