SALT LAKE CITY — A former reservist accused of acquiring $28,000 in fraudulent bonuses through the Utah Army National Guard appeared in U.S. District Court for the first time Tuesday.
Darron Terry Smith, 48, was indicted last month in U.S. District Court on four counts of wire fraud and four counts of theft of government property.
Smith pleaded not guilty to the eight charges during a preliminary hearing Tuesday.
Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The maximum sentence for each count of theft of government property is a 10-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.
Although Smith now lives in Tennessee, prosecutors did not request that he be detained because of his attendance at the hearing. They did, however, request that he be supervised by pretrial services in Tennessee.
While a reservist with the Utah National Guard, Smith allegedly used an incentivized recruitment program known as the Guard Recruiter Assistance Program, or G-RAP, to take in bonuses for soldiers he didn't recruit, according to an indictment.
From 2006 to 2009, Smith claimed he knew and helped recruit 12 people, none of whom know him, the indictment states. Smith was paid $28,000 in bonuses through the program.
Since the program was launched in 2005, the Army has begun almost 600 investigations of more than 1,200 people who allegedly defrauded the program of at least $29 million until the program's end in 2012.
Three other men face similar charges for allegedly participating in the scandal while in the Utah National Guard.
Smith is currently on paid administrative leave from his position as assistant professor of physician assistant studies at the University of Tennessee. Smith is a former assistant professor at Wichita State University and was an adjunct faculty member at the University of Utah, BYU and Utah Valley University, according to his website.
He also supported a National Guard unit stationed in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Smith was scheduled to appear before U.S. District Senior Judge Tena Campbell for a four-day jury trial starting Nov. 3.
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