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Arizona Air National Guard members indicted on fraud charges

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Members of an Arizona Air National Guard unit in Tucson have been indicted on charges they falsified military records to defraud the U.S. government out of hundreds of thousands of dollars of extra pay meant for troops on deployment, authorities said on Monday.

Eight officers and 13 enlisted members of the Guard's 214th Reconnaissance Group were accused of using fake home addresses to collect as much as five times as much pay as they were due, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said on Monday.

The Air National Guard members, based in Tucson, Arizona, operate MQ-1B Predator reconnaissance drones that fly over Iraq and Afghanistan but are controlled via satellite from Tucson.

Most of those indicted in the alleged scam, said to have operated between November 2007 and September 2010, were fraudulently paid more than $100,000 during the three-year period, Horne's office said in a statement.

"Some of these men and women received benefits in excess of four and five times their salaries in temporary duty entitlements," Horne said in a statement.

"Conversely, our brave men and women overseas were making pennies on the dollar compared to what this group was receiving while still going home to their families each night," he added.

The group's former commander, Colonel Gregg Davies, is accused of providing assistance to the other co-defendants, using his position to circumvent measures intended to prevent unauthorized temporary duty entitlements when military members are neither deployed nor away from home for training.

Created in 2007 and based in Tucson, the group is tasked with operations around the clock to provide reconnaissance information to troops on the ground.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by David Gregorio)

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