An Army Reserve major pleaded guilty to using his position as an Army financial counselor to defraud Gold Star families, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Caz Craffy, 41, who also goes by “Carz Craffey,” admitted to taking advantage of his role to swindle deceased troops’ grieving loved ones out of millions, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.

As a result of his criminal activity, Gold Star families lost more than $3.7 million, while Craffy personally pocketed more than $1.4 million in commissions. The scam prompted a move in Congress to strengthen oversight of the military’s financial counselors.

“Nothing can undo the enormous loss that Gold Star families have suffered, but the Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to protect them from further harm,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the statement.

Officials charged Craffy last year with 10 counts, including six counts of wire fraud, following an investigation by The Washington Post.

Craffy worked as an Army civilian financial counselor from November 2017 to January 2023, entrusted with providing guidance to the surviving beneficiaries of deceased troops who can be eligible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. But without telling the Army, Craffy simultaneously maintained outside employment with two separate investment firms.

The vast majority of families whose finances Craffy mishandled mistakenly believed his management of their money was done on behalf of the Army.

Gold Star families invested more than $9.9 million in accounts Craffy managed in his private capacity from May 2018 to November 2022. Once in control of the money, he repeatedly executed trades, often without their authorization, which earned him high commissions.

In a particularly appalling offense, Craffy misappropriated $50,000 from the account of a minor whose parent died on active duty, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission previously said in a release.

Craffy began his time in the Army Reserve in 2003, according to a service record previously shared with Military Times.

A plea agreement outlines a prison term of roughly eight to 10 years, though a sentencing scheduled for August will determine how much time he officially receives, as well as how much money he is ordered to pay.

The SEC also has a pending civil complaint against Craffy based on the same and additional conduct, the Justice Department release noted.

“We take these matters very seriously and will address this issue in accordance with Army regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to ensure due process,” Army Reserve spokesperson Lt. Col. Addie Leonhardt told Military Times in a statement. “However, the Privacy Act precludes the Army Reserve from discussing a specific soldier’s case in further detail.”

Craffy’s attorney did not immediately respond to Military Times’ request for comment.

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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