A federal judge sentenced a former Army warrant officer previously stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia to nearly two years in prison for running a “prolific fraud scheme” that “raked in millions of dollars” from COVID-19 relief programs and federal student loan forgiveness.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dara Buck, 39, who also used the alias “Dara Butler,” pleaded guilty on July 14 to conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States before her sentencing on Jan. 5.

Buck had faced up to five years in prison. She must repay more than $3.68 million as part of her plea agreement.

“While serving in the U.S. Army, Dara Buck engaged in a massive scheme to defraud the taxpayers of the nation she was sworn to serve,” U.S. Attorney Davis H. Estes wrote in a statement. “With our law enforcement partners, we are committed to identifying and holding accountable those who defraud COVID-19 relief programs to feed their self-serving greed.”

From August 2017 to May 2021, Buck “led a conspiracy to fraudulently obtain funding” from the federal coronavirus relief program and the paycheck protection program that paralleled COVID-19 relief efforts, according to court documents.

“[CWO 2] Buck chose to dishonor the U.S. Military and defraud the American people she swore to protect and defend,” Special Agent in Charge Cynthia A. Bruce, defense department inspector general, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Southeast Field Office wrote in a previous statement.

Buck admitted in her guilty plea she, along with others, submitted more than 150 fraudulent loan applications and received more than $3 million in disbursements as a part of the conspiracy, according to the federal prosecutor’s statement.

Neither the prosecutor’s statement nor court documents reviewed by Army Times showed the number or identity of her alleged co-conspirators. Co-defendants or parties not charges in criminal cases are often offered immunity in exchange for testifying against fellow conspirators in federal criminal cases.

Beyond the COVID-19 fraud, Buck and the fraud crew she ran submitted falsified U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs certifications for total and permanent disability to the U.S. Department of Education to obtain more than a dozen fraudulent student loans, according to the statement.

Those student loans totaled more than $1 million.

“Individuals that conspire to defraud Small Business Administration programs will be brought to justice and face the consequences of their illicit activity,” Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General’s Eastern Region Special Agent in Charge Amaleka McCall-Brathwaite wrote in the statement.

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

4 caviale royal 2 300x300 1


Leave a Reply