Texas disabled veteran swindles

Click for details on 21 cases where family members or VA-approved fiduciaries were prosecuted for taking money from veterans whose assets they'd promised to protect Information from VA Inspector General's records and court files.

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SANGER, Texas
DEFENDANT: VENABLE. JUDY B
ProsecutionYear: 2004
COURT DISTRICT: Eastern District of Texas
Estimated theft: $86,736.94
Summary: Convicted of felony theft of public property, $86,736 in restitution payments ordered.
AUSTIN, Texas
DEFENDANT: LINGAFElT. VIRGINIA A.
ProsecutionYear: 2005
COURT DISTRICT: Western District of Texas
Estimated theft: $32,325.64
Summary: Between 2000 and 2001, Lingafelt stole money from 7 veterans accounts by check and ATM. The embezzlement was discovered through a hotline tip. Lingafelt pleaded guilty in August 2005 and was sentenced to 12 months and 1 day imprisonment, 3 years supervised release, no fine, $100 special assessment, and $32,325.64 in restitution
BEAUMONT, Texas
DEFENDANT: BULLER, DEBORAH
ProsecutionYear: 2003
COURT DISTRICT: Eastern District of Texas
Estimated theft: n/a
Summary: Misdemeanor conviction, no details available.
MARSHALL. TX, Texas
DEFENDANT: NUTT, TAMMY L.
ProsecutionYear: 2004
COURT DISTRICT: Eastern District of Texas
Estimated theft: n/a
Summary: Convicted of theft of government property; details unavailable.
TEXARKANA, Texas
DEFENDANT: WILGUS, ROGER
ProsecutionYear: 2005
COURT DISTRICT: Eastern District of Texas
Estimated theft: $87,780.27
Summary: For five years - between July 2000 and July 2005, Wilgus, a VA-approved fiduciary, embezzled money from the fiduciary trust of veteran Robert W. Frazier.
AMARILLO, Texas
DEFENDANT: CEARLEY, JOHN DEAN
ProsecutionYear: 2004
COURT DISTRICT: Potter County
Estimated theft: 15000
Summary: Guilty plea to lesser charge
HOUSTON, Texas
DEFENDANT: WELCH, BOHDAN SUNSHINE
ProsecutionYear: 2004
COURT DISTRICT: Southern District of Texas
Estimated theft: 14018
Summary: Convicted of theft of government funds and ordered to pay $14,000 in restitution. Probation later revoked in 2008, ordered to prison for two months and to pay restitution of $40,676.57
EL PASO, Texas
DEFENDANT: CLERE. JENNIFER LYNN
ProsecutionYear: 2006
COURT DISTRICT: El Paso County DA
Estimated theft: n/a
Summary: Theft case, no details available.
PASADENA. TX, Texas
DEFENDANT: FEDD. MILDRED
ProsecutionYear: 2004
COURT DISTRICT: Harris County
Estimated theft: 3484
Summary: Fedd received deferred prosecution, though evidence showed that rather than open an account or buy a grave for an 82-year-old disabled vet, she took $3,484 of his money to fix her plumbing, pay traffic tickets, get her truck out of an impoundment lot and make house payments.
WACO.TX, Texas
DEFENDANT: FRAM. DAVID
ProsecutionYear: 2006
COURT DISTRICT: Western District of Texas
Estimated theft: $126,250
Summary: Fram, a Waco optometrist, began acting as a paid fiduciary around 1996. He started having financial difficulties in his private unrelated business and began to illegally use funds that belonged to veterans to cover his expenses. He would divert money from one veteran's account into another so that the year-end balance would appear correct to VA accounting personnel. Fram reached a plea agreement in July 2006, was sentenced to probation and repaid the $126,250 by 2011.
HOUSTON, Texas
DEFENDANT: HUNTER, LAURA
ProsecutionYear: 2009
COURT DISTRICT: Harris County
Estimated theft: 31000
Summary: Named fiduciary for her disabled brother, despite the fact she had two previous misdemeanor theft convictions(in 1997 and 1999). She subsequently used $31,000 of his money in part for gambling. Thefts begin April 1, 2004 and continued through August 1, 2005.
MURCHISON, Texas
DEFENDANT: MYERS, WANDA G. (LAMARCHE)
ProsecutionYear: 2007
COURT DISTRICT: Eastern District of Texas
Estimated theft: $35,000
Summary: Between March 1, 2004 and February 1, 2006 she stole disability checks belonging to a disabled veteran. Estimated thefts of about $35,000.
WACO, Texas
DEFENDANT: STANGE, CHARLES D. JR.
ProsecutionYear: 2008
COURT DISTRICT: Western District of Texas
Estimated theft: $272,802
Summary: Stange, a veteran and former police officer, was convicted of theft after repeatedly taking out large loans from his disabled father that he never repaid. He went to prison for 30 months and the government seized and sold his house to recover an estimated $272,802. Stange died in 2011, a few months after being released from prison.
FORT WORTH. TX, Texas
DEFENDANT: IBRAHIM, PATRICIA
ProsecutionYear: 2009
COURT DISTRICT: Tarrant County
Estimated theft: 9715
Summary: A nursing home social worker, Ibrahim stole both from a disabled veteran and from a railroad retiree whose finances she was appointed to oversee. She spent some of their money on gambling; the veteran died after she moved him from the nursing home without VA approval.
FLORESVILLE, Texas
DEFENDANT: RODRIGUEZ, ROSE
ProsecutionYear: 2008
COURT DISTRICT: Wilson County
Estimated theft: n/a
Summary: Received deferred adjudication after being charged with theft from an elderly person.
MISSION, Texas
DEFENDANT: MURILLO, JOSE ROBERTO
ProsecutionYear: 2008
COURT DISTRICT: Hidalgo County
Estimated theft: 30090
Summary: Defendent took approximately $30,090 from a veteran, whom officials described as a relative, whose finances he was supposed to oversee.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas
DEFENDANT: AVILA, EULALIA & AVILA, ROSE)
ProsecutionYear: 2011
COURT DISTRICT: Bexar County
Estimated theft: 180000
Summary: Niece and sister of a veteran got him to sign a power of attorney and took $180,000 in assets while veteran was permanently hospitalized and got only pocket money of about $20 cash at a time. As part of their defense, the two argued the veteran had agreed to give his money away.
COPPELL, Texas
DEFENDANT: HILL, HAZEL D.
ProsecutionYear: 2011
COURT DISTRICT: Western District of Oklahoma
Estimated theft: 66,173.20
Summary: Between January 2008 and July 2009, this professional fiduciary stole from three veterans. Her thefts remained undetected when she contacted a defense attorney and arranged to confess.
BUFFALO, Texas
DEFENDANT: CHAPA, HEIDI
ProsecutionYear: 2010
COURT DISTRICT: Leon County
Estimated theft: 3,000 to 4,000
Summary: Theft of public money, estimated by prosecutors at about $3,000 to $4,000
TEXARKANA, Texas
DEFENDANT: BRAXTON, TIAWA
ProsecutionYear: 2011
COURT DISTRICT: Eastern District of Texas
Estimated theft: $45,126.00
Summary: Appointed to be fiduciary for his father Charles, who died 9/22/2007. He failed to report his father's death and for two years continued to collect $1,000 per month in VA benefits in his father's name.
FORT WORTH, Texas
DEFENDANT: ROBINSON (BRYANT), YOLANDA
ProsecutionYear: 2012
COURT DISTRICT: Tarrant County
Estimated theft: $9,305
Summary: This woman arranged to be her father's fiduciary in July 2008, then placed him in a nursing home that September without informing the VA and spent his money on herself. The theft was discovered in September 2009 by a VA Field Examiner conducting a routing annual examination.
HOUSTON, Texas
DEFENDANT: PHILLIPS, JOE AND DOROTHY
ProsecutionYear: PENDING
COURT DISTRICT: Southern District of Texas
Estimated theft: $2 million
Summary: Phillips, an attorney, and his wife, both in their 70s, have been charged with fraud and theft in indictments that allege they took $2 million from more than two dozen disabled veterans and hiding the thefts by moving money around between accounts, creating false account numbers and forging bank officials' signatures. Their case is pending in a Houston federal court.
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