A California National Guard officer was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday for defrauding the government of $15.2 million on behalf of her fellow officers.
Retired Master Sergeant Toni L. Jaffe, 52, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dolly M. Gee to serve her sentence in federal prison and pay $15,200,000 in restitution. The California National Guard is the nation’s largest guard force with more than 22,000 soldiers around the state. Locally, the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base is home to the Guard’s 40th Infantry Division.
“Ms. Jaffe deliberately misappropriated millions of dollars of federal government funds and she has now been held accountable for her actions,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr., whose office prosecuted the case. “We appreciate the California National Guard’s cooperation with federal investigators to help bring this serious fraud and abuse to a halt.”
Jaffe pleaded guilty in August 2011 to making a false claim against the United States. When she pleaded guilty, Jaffe admitted that from the fall of 2007 through October 2009, she routinely submitted false and fictitious claims on behalf of her fellow California National Guard members. Jaffe admitted that she submitted claims to pay bonuses to members of the California National Guard whom she knew were not eligible to receive the bonuses and to pay off officer’s loans, even though she knew the officers were ineligible for loan repayment. According to her plea agreement, Jaffe is responsible for $15.2 million in wrongfully paid bonuses and loan repayments.
“As the Bonus and Incentive Manager for the California National Guard, defendant Toni Jaffe was entrusted to millions of dollars of Department of Defense funds,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed with the court. “Defendant completely and utterly abused that trust. During a two year period, defendant gave out over $15 million of government funds to friends, colleagues, and others whom she knew were not entitled to receive that money.”
The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Army Criminal Investigative Command, the Defense Criminal Investigative Services, and with the computer forensic assistance of the Department of Toxic Substances Control through the Orange County Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory.
Correction: Due to a reporting error, and earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the amount of time Jaffe was sentenced to.