A member of the Michigan National Guard made his first appearance in federal court late last month after authorities say he quietly collected his full pay and allowances for more than two years after resigning from full-time Guard status and reverting to part-time service.

Staff Sgt. Clayton H. Mitsui Jr. remains a member of the Michigan Guard while he awaits trial for theft of public funds, confirmed state spokesperson Penny Carroll. A federal public defender representing the soldier declined comment when reached by Army Times.

The alleged theft was discovered when Mitsui submitted a pay inquiry about a missing part-time drill paycheck, according to publicly-available court records.

The $205,435.48 that Mitsui reportedly stole went towards “child support, bills, and credit card debt,” according to an arrest warrant request from Army Criminal Investigation Division agent Joseph Kajer.

The NCO resigned from the Hawaii National Guard’s Active Guard Reserve program in June 2017, the warrant application said.

But even after Mitsui became a weekend warrior, he continued to receive his previous active duty pay and allowances on top of his monthly drill pay, Kajer said. The CID agent attributed the error to Mitsui failing to complete administrative requirements when leaving the AGR program, and the Hawaii Guard failing to tell the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to stop his pay.

Mitsui then moved to Michigan and transferred into the National Guard there in February 2019.

Four months later, in June, the NCO reported that he hadn’t been receiving his monthly drill paychecks since transferring, according to Kajer.

“Coordination with the [Michigan Army National Guard] revealed that Mitsui was not receiving drill pay because he was receiving active duty pay and entitlements,” said the CID agent in the warrant application.

Michigan officials quickly realized that Mitsui was receiving active duty pay and submitted paperwork to DFAS halting it in November 2019, explained Kajer. They reported the discovery to CID.

Kajer interviewed Mitsui over the phone in April 2020, and the NCO allegedly admitted to taking the money and spending it.

“I knew I was doing something wrong,” Mitsui reportedly told the investigator, adding that he’d hidden the fact that he received active duty pay from superiors. “I got caught when I came to Michigan...If I could turn back time and change it, I would.”

A federal judge ordered Mitsui released from custody pending trial on an unsecured $10,000 bond.

According to federal law, theft of public funds in excess of $1,000 is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison. If convicted, offenders often have to repay the funds they stole.

In a similar case that concluded earlier this month, a disgraced Air Force officer who received more than $800,000 in pay after being dismissed from the service for misconduct was sentenced to five years in prison. That airman, former Maj. Brandon Bailey, also defrauded the Social Security Administration.

Prosecutors initially did not seek jail time for Bailey, who also has to pay $1.5 million in restitution and forfeit most of his assets, but he violated the conditions of his bond while awaiting sentencing.

Mitsui’s next court appearance is on April 19.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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