Soldier charged with fraud spared jail time, but ordered to repa - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Soldier charged with fraud spared jail time, but ordered to repay money

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 3:00 PM Updated:

It was a program intended to up recruitment numbers for the National Guard by offering bonuses to those who nominated potential soldiers. Instead, however, several here at home as well as tens of thousands around the nation are facing federal charges for theft of government property and identity theft.

In court today, another soldier taking a hit. "She was a victim of circumstance" - these words from Dorene Damian, mother of defendant Danica Damian. Damian and her family were in tears during Friday's sentencing hearing where she was spared jail time, but ordered to pay all the money back.

Last year, the single mother pleaded guilty to felony theft of government property for fraudulently obtaining over $9,000 in recruitment bonuses she wasn't entitled to as part of the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program. According to defense attorney Peter Perez, pleading guilty to the felony charge was her best option. Had she gone to trial, she'd face an additional charge of identity theft which carries a minimum two years in jail.

Damian, like several other Guam soldiers, was charged after a nationwide audit of the GRAP program revealed evidence of fraud.

According to Attorney Perez, tens of thousands of others are in the same situation as his client, stating "none of them ever thought they'd be in this situation" and "she didn't know at the time she was violating the law."

Dorene, a proud mother, cited all of her daughter's accomplishments - model student, athlete, and college graduate. She added that her daughter always went above and beyond her duties in the National Guard, who pressured her to "recruit, recruit, recruit."

Damian, showing deep remorse in court on Friday, stated "It was never my intent to violate the law."

Though taking the felony plea was the hardest decision of her life, Damian added she finds comfort in coming home to her daughter.

Damian was ultimately sentenced to one year probation and 50 hours community service.

Immediately following the hearing, she paid her restitution in full.

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