Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa military recruiter accused of claiming $78,000 in undeserved bonuses

TAMPA — Travis DeVall once described himself as a military recruiter "on steroids."

He starred in a 2009 Army Times article touting the success of the Army National Guard Recruiting Assistance program, which paid the retired service member up to $5,000 for each new recruit he found.

But the program buckled under widespread fraud, and now DeVall — a former top producer — faces federal charges that he claimed $78,000 in bonuses he didn't deserve.

He took credit for finding and mentoring recruits he had not even met, the government alleges.

DeVall, 47, of Tampa was arrested Wednesday, accused of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, theft of government property and funds and aggravated identity theft, according to a June 24 indictment made public Thursday. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. He could not be reached for comment.

If convicted of aggravated identity theft, he faces at least two years in prison. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years. The government also intends to seek a judgment against DeVall for $78,000, court records state.

The fraud is alleged to have occurred from 2006 to 2010. The Army Times article, published Feb. 8, 2009, stated that the master sergeant had once been a full-time recruiter for the Army and National Guard, enlisting 600 people. Then, after retirement, he earned $192,000 by recruiting 112 soldiers as a recruiting assistant, the publication stated. That's the role that led to scrutiny.

He was paid $1,000 if a recruit enlisted, $1,000 more if the recruit shipped out to basic training and $3,000 if the recruit became a commissioned officer.

The commission program was managed by a private contractor, Document & Packaging Brokers.

The government alleges that co-conspirators gave DeVall the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of people who were interested in military service, and he entered the information online. The indictment does not state whether the co-conspirators were military or civilian.

In May, the publication Military Times described a Texas conspiracy in which a former Guard recruiter — who later became a recruiting assistant — offered to pay full-time recruiters for identities of enlistees so that he could take credit and claim bonuses. Full-time recruiters could not collect bonuses.

A hearing led by Missouri Sen. Clair McCaskill in February pointed to the likelihood of $50 million to $100 million in fraud in the $459 million program, which was in existence from 2006 to 2012.

Contact Patty Ryan at [email protected] or (813) 226-3382.

Comments
Forecasters: Increased likelihood for tropical system to form in gulf, soak Tampa Bay

Forecasters: Increased likelihood for tropical system to form in gulf, soak Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The National Hurricane Center has raised the chance that a low pressure system moving up through the Caribbean will become a tropical system as it enters the gulf in the next 3-5 days.On Wednesday night, the weather service reported ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Lightning’s season is over; latest on Bayshore street racing death; soggy Memorial Day could curtail concerts; Hooper pays tribute to Lee Roy Selmon’s

The Daystarter: Lightning’s season is over; latest on Bayshore street racing death; soggy Memorial Day could curtail concerts; Hooper pays tribute to Lee Roy Selmon’s

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• The rain is back, and it won’t let up through the Memorial Day weekend. Blame Invest 90L, the low-pressure system brewing in the Caribbean Sea. The National Hurricane Center predicted...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Graham Rahal: Indy 500 could be one of the ‘trickiest races’ in years

Graham Rahal: Indy 500 could be one of the ‘trickiest races’ in years

ST. PETERSBURG — The increased competition in the IndyCar Series was on display during qualifying for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.Two fan favorites (Pippa Mann and 2013 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe) couldn't crack th...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Largo considers rate hike for trash, recycling

Largo considers rate hike for trash, recycling

LARGO — Residents may see the first trash and recycling rate hike in more than a decade next year as the city faces changes in the global recycling landscape and rising costs.The potential 20 percent increase, which would bring the rate for residenti...
Published: 05/24/18
What’s bringing that new $50 million boutique hotel to Ybor City? It’s not just the local history

What’s bringing that new $50 million boutique hotel to Ybor City? It’s not just the local history

TAMPA — The historic charm of Ybor City is only part of the reason developers will break ground today on a $50 million boutique hotel on E Seventh Avenue.Two other key factors are Tampa’s larger business climate and the hospitality market in particul...
Published: 05/24/18
Two vacant lots in the ‘heart’ of St. Petersburg. Why does one look so much nicer?

Two vacant lots in the ‘heart’ of St. Petersburg. Why does one look so much nicer?

ST. PETERSBURG — When several old buildings on the 400 block of Central Avenue were demolished two years ago, the owners were required to attractively fence and landscape the property. The reason? To avoid having an unsightly vacant lot in the "heart...
Published: 05/24/18
Joe Henderson: With chaos the norm on Interstate 4, back roads are looking more inviting

Joe Henderson: With chaos the norm on Interstate 4, back roads are looking more inviting

In the past couple of months, I have had to travel about 25 miles from the bucolic burg of Brandon to Lakeland several times.I take Interstate 4 because it is the most direct route.I may have to rethink that strategy, though, especially with Memorial...
Published: 05/24/18
Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

Three arrested for street racing after mother fatally struck pushing stroller on Bayshore Boulevard

TAMPA — The two cars raced each other along Bayshore Boulevard just before noon, witnesses told police. One was a black 2018 Mustang. The other a gold Nissan. They sped side-by-side, trading the lead, police said, despite the traffic and pedest...
Updated: 1 hour ago