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Federal agents arrest Army National Guard soldier in El Paso in New York fraud case

Members of the Clovis, N.M., Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactics team handcuff a U.S. airman during a hostile threat exercise at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., June 20, 2012. (Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece/U.S. Air Force)

Federal agents in El Paso arrested an Army National Guard soldier, who is also a New York City Rikers Island correction officer, accused of falsifying military paperwork and signatures in a work fraud scheme.

Shawn Pierre Hobbs, 34, a member of the Connecticut Army National Guard, was arrested Monday in El Paso on federal wire fraud and aggravated identity theft charges out of Manhattan.

El Paso County Jail records show that Hobbs, of Roosevelt, New York, was booked by the FBI. He is being held pending extradition. It has not been disclosed why Hobbs was in El Paso.

Army National Guard soldiers have civilian jobs while serving in the military part time.

Hobbs is accused of defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs and the New York City Department of Corrections, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

New York City Department of Corrections employees are entitled to paid leave while on military duty as part of a VA program, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

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The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Hobbs submitted to his employer false paid memos for paid leave with a U.S. Department of Defense seal and National Guard letterhead while falsely claiming to have served hundreds of days of military duty that he had not served.

At the same time, Hobbs also allegedly faxed fake documents to the VA that false claimed he worked hundreds of hours at the Department of Corrections, which he hadn’t work, officials said.

He is accused of forging the names and signatures of a National Guard platoon leader, a noncommissioned officer and a corrections employee in the scheme.

Hobbs has been a National Guard soldier since 2015. The alleged benefits scam took place from January 2019 to March of this year, authorities said.

Hobbs faces one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Wire fraud is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in federal prison and the aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two-year term.

The case was investigated by the VA Office of the Inspector General and is being handled by the U.S. Attorney Office’s Public Corruption Unit.


(c) 2021 the El Paso Times

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