Fraud and theft of disabled veterans

Read more about more than 100 misuse and theft prosecutions involving family or fiduciaries who were entrusted to manage disabled veterans' money, assets or estates nationwide. Click on any location to view more information from VA Inspector General reports, case files and interviews nationwide.

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Houston, TX
Defendant:: Joe and Dorothy Phillips
Prosecution Year:: PENDING & 2012
Loss or restitution:: Estimated at 2000000
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Phillips, an attorney, and his wife, both in their 70s, have been accused in indictments of taking about $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. Joe Phillips' trial is pending; his wife, Dorothy Phillips, pleaded guilty to related charges of conspiracy and income tax evasion and is awaiting sentencing.
Fort Worth, TX
Defendant:: Bobby R. Blassingame
Prosecution Year:: 2012
Loss or restitution:: Unavailable
Range: Unavailable
Summary:: Pleaded guilty in June to allegedly taking money for more than a year from the bank account of an incapacitated veteran and using it for his personal benefit. His sentencing is pending in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth. Court records indicate that Blassingame filed for bankruptcy three years prior to his prosecution.
Tuskegee, AL
Defendant:: Joy Farmer (other last names Jolly and Smith)
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $681,965
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Delayed justice. Administrative assistant for fiduciary/Tuskegee attorney. She forged fiduciary’s signature, wrote more than 320 checks to herself and stole $626,000 from 25 VA beneficiaries between January 1999 and May 2004. Wasn’t federally prosecuted (bank fraud) until March 2011 because the case was “pushed” from lawyer to lawyer, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Clark Morris in Montgomery. While awaiting indictment in federal court, Farmer, under the name Jolly, forged two large checks at a Columbus, Ga., boutique in January 2006, court records show. She pled guilty in Muscogee County Superior Court in July 2006, but was sentenced to probation because it was her first conviction.
Chugiak, AK
Defendant:: Frank R. and Phyllis Y. Talas Jr.
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $495,010
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: A couple, described by supporters as well meaning, used military pension and social security money intended for woman's father on a "failed business venture" and more. Caught when father’s Chugiak, AK, assisted living home complained to state regulators about no payments for four months for his care. The couple argued it was just comingling and poor money management. Prosecution agreed that Frank Talas Jr. had "simply no ability to handle money." Frank Talas Jr. sentenced to 6 months in prison, wife got probation. Loss tallied in indictment was $495,010, but restitution ordered was $185,000.
Payson, AZ
Defendant:: Della J. Hawk
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: $118,986
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Woman with several aliases asked for leniency due to insanity. Given probation.
Tucson, AZ
Defendant:: Carl Reese Bedford
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: $12,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Former radio personality, according to local media reports.
Phoenix, AZ
Defendant:: Peggy Sue Salazar
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $13,658
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Described in court records as a "gambling addict" who additionally suffers from "significant" mental illness including bipolar disorder. Sentenced to five years probation and ordered to take mental health treatment. Stole from stepfather.
Tonto Basin, AZ
Defendant:: Martin Patrick O'Dea
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $20,241
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: O'Dea made money as state-licensed VA fiduciary and auto body repairman. VA appointed him despite or unaware of 1988 misdemeanor conviction for theft, court records show. Alleged to have spent more than three years stealing $40,000 from nine veterans. Caught when unnamed family member complained in 2004. Sister-in-law of one victim told Hearst: “It came completely out of the blue.” Prosecution delayed four years. Plea bargain reduced charges to misdemeanor, probation and restitution.
Prescott, AZ
Defendant:: Karen Yvonne Hall
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $12,694
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Hospital employee appointed VA fiduciary for her mother, the widow of a veteran, in 2004. Her mother, Theresa E. Lansing, died on Sept. 24, 2008. Hall kept on collecting VA checks, spending them on her own travel and other personal items as well paying funeral expenses for her mother, for more than a year before VA caught on that the mother had died, court records show. Pled to reduced charge and placed on probation.
Tucson, AZ
Defendant:: Barbara Anne Thomas-Moore
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $17,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Stole more than $17,000 from a 90-year-old woman. Thomas-Moore was sentenced to ten days in jail, three years probation, 800 hours of community service, payment of $2,500 to the state's anti-racketeering fund and restitution.
San Francisco, CA
Defendant:: Jennifer K. Bustos and Cheryll Del Rosario
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $83,394
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Two friends hatched scheme to skim money from incompetent residents, some of whom were veterans, at Walden House in Haight Ashbury, where one perpetrator was an employee. VA didn't catch it, but an audit by the home for indigents did expose the crime. Bustos sentenced to 6 months and Del Rosario to 5 months in prison.
Los Angeles, CA
Defendant:: Anne L. Chavis and C. Brian Smith
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $1,032,370
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Exposed by newspaper investigation. Smith was attorney and Chavis was fiduciary. State court prosecution. Both received prison terms.
Union City, CA
Defendant:: Ruben Ymang Masangcay
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $49,224
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Aftermath of this case was a mess: $15,000 in VA restitution money piled up in “unclaimed funds” account in federal court because court clerk hadn't been told by VA where to send it. After years, helpless victim finally in March got that money which her uncle had stolen from her. Ruben Masangcay, her uncle, now deceased.
Groton, CT
Defendant:: Kathleen A. Hunter
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $54,320
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Spent small fortune caring for brother for decades, moved to be nearer him, then prosecuted for spending his VA money to remodel her home to accommodate his visits. Two months probation with comments in court judgment about her "good works".
Bristol, CT
Defendant:: Linda L. Roberge
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $28,754
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Fiduciary described as an overburdened single mom who misused her father's benefits to support herself and children during difficult times. Probation 3 years, with first six months in home confinement.
Haddam, CT
Defendant:: Scott C. Trudel
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $103,535
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Paralegal. Court ordered him to "treatment program for compulsive gambling" as well as to prison for a year. Spent money intended for ten veterans on wagers. Attorney and employer Matthew Gilbride, who was the fiduciary, told Hearst he first suspected problems with Trudel when a veteran complained about missing travel money.
Madison, CT
Defendant:: William Haynes
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $89,000
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Used his brother's money to buy, among other things, three cars. Defense attorney claimed in court papers that his client had "psychological, psychiatric and or emotional problems," plus a previous offense of petty larceny. 1 year prison, alcohol abuse treatment and restitution.
Wethersfield, CT
Defendant:: Arnold Martin
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $69,000
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Former spokesman for Hartford Police Department and former chief investigator for state worker's comp cases. Pled guilty to commingling funds, but the victim, his cousin, protested his removal as fiduciary. Three years probation. Six months home confinement with release for Boy Scouts activity.
Ellington, CT
Defendant:: Kathleen M. Thibodeau
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $20,843
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: In tough personal times, this former leader of Brownies troop and mother of three, misused money intended for mentally disabled brother. "Totally out of character", she told the court while admitting responsibility. Two years probation.
Stratford, CT
Defendant:: Ellen Pack
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $18,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: One-time executive secretary and nursing instructor, now retired, as welll as community activist and church member. Her uncle asked the VA to allow her to continue as fiduciary, saying "she has been very good to me," but federal prosecutors said she broke the law. Two months in prison and three months home confinement.
Jewett City, CT
Defendant:: Deborah Hobson (Peirson)
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $7,500
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor after misusing VA benefits of brother-in-law. Told court she was overwhelmed, commingled funds and failed to do accounting. Her 5 year probation was cut short by a year for good behavior. Now in Florida and in 2010 was caring for ailing mother.
Winter Garden, FL
Defendant:: Joel P. Ruben
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $86,402
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Fiduciary ordered to undergo mental health treatment by the court. For seven years, he faked letters from his mentally-ill mother to direct money to bank accounts he controlled. Fraud began as early as 1995, but he wasn't caught until 2003. Four years in prison.
Archer, FL
Defendant:: Loretta Duncan
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: Unavailable
Range: Unavailable
Summary:: Fiduciary was accused of buying motor home at pawn shop with disabled brother's VA money but acquitted by a jury of embezzlement and misapplication charges. VA takes years to respond to complaint. Allegation of witness tampering and victim disappears as trial approaches. Split jury verdict eliminates restitution. 3 years probation for false statements.
West Palm Beach, FL
Defendant:: Darrin L. Smith
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: $59,718
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Five months in prison for misappropriation of money by fiduciary.
St. Petersburg, FL
Defendant:: Roger L. Clark
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $5,900
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Convicted of theft after stealing an estimated $5,900 from a veteran; paid $450 fine and sentenced to three years probation. Had a prior bad check conviction.
Albany, GA
Defendant:: John H. Johnson Jr.
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $14,332
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Former deputy sheriff and life insurance salesman. Said in interview with Hearst that the thousands he misappropriated was justified by mileage fee and an hourly minimum wage for caring for father. The jury didn't buy it. 21 month prison.
Portal, GA
Defendant:: Johnny Paul Finch
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $10,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: The court ordered treatment for this VA-appointed fiduciary who had "previously been treated for Schizophrenia and depression." Was able to misappropriate funds for more than two years. Fifteen months prison.
Fitzgerald, GA
Defendant:: James H. Westberry
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $15,097
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Two years probation.
Atlanta, GA
Defendant:: Perry Butler
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $10,344
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Convicted of theft by conversion of a veterans funds.
Emmett, ID
Defendant:: Carol Jean Williams
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: $8,823
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: VA gave Williams three years to account for or pay back the money before a VA investigator interviewed her. Attorney said Williams took money from veteran "out of financial desperation" to save her business, a group home. 2 years probation and restitution.
Maywood, IL
Defendant:: Dione L. Williams-Crayton
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $29,284
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Daughter used father's VA benefits and social security while he was in a VA facility. Four months probation, evaluation and treatment for emotional issues.
Wauconda, IL
Defendant:: William L. Brownell
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $14,933
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: The veteran victim, who was Brownell's brother, said in letter to court: "He don't deserve this. He has been a devout brother through all this". He also said the new VA fiduciary "refuses to see or talk to me". 3 years probation, 350 hours community service.
Murdock, IL
Defendant:: Gerald Lee Neff
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $10,305
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Neff pleaded guilty to theft, got probation and was ordered to pay restitution to the Douglas Rehabilitation and Care Center.
Evansville, IN
Defendant:: Raelene Lovelace
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $55,645
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: A worker at a local horse racing track, Lovelace was convicted of theft and welfare fraud and ordered to pay $55,645 in restitution in part for stealing from a disabled veteran or veterans.
Indianapolis, IN
Defendant:: Yolanda Radford
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: Forfeited house, ordered to make monthly payments
Summary:: Fiduciary ordered to forfeit her house and make monthly payments in compensation after pleading guilty to neglect of a dependent after stealing from a veteran relative. She spent two days in jail.
Waukee, IA
Defendant:: John B. Chapman
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $26,272
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Ordered to seek evaluations for substance abuse and mental health treatment, but died less than two months after his sentencing.
Camanche, IA
Defendant:: Rose Marie Plummer
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $8,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Fiduciary, who had a previous 1978 theft conviction, convicted for stealing $8,000 from a veteran(s) in 2003
Hutchinson, KS
Defendant:: Charles K. Hyter
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $43,505
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Former Hutchinson city attorney said he misused money for years and "there wasn't much oversight" in the VA fiduciary program. Sentenced to 15 months prison and restitution.
Wichita, KS
Defendant:: Janelle Jenkins-Foster
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $318,900
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Lawyer took advantage of weak VA auditing system to embezzle for a decade from 11 helpless veterans. Jenkins-Foster confessed out of “remorse” and because she faced her first-ever random audit in July 2008, her defense attorney said. Two of her victims had been previously fleeced by another fiduciary who was also a lawyer (Robert Arnold). Jenkins-Foster is currently in a Florida prison serving 18-month sentence.
Wichita, KS
Defendant:: Robert R. Arnold
Prosecution Year:: 2002
Loss or restitution:: $490,625
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Arnold was once president of the Wichita Bar Association. In October, 1999, he was reported to court authorities by his estranged wife's divorce lawyer for misusing trust account money. He surrendered his law license and was immediately disbarred, records show. That led to an investigation and prosecution for misuse of veterans' money as a fiduciary. He pled guilty to misappropriating nearly a half million dollars and was sentenced in April 2002 to three years probation. Some of his victims were assigned to a new fiduciary, Janelle Jenkins-Foster, who also stole from them, according to her defense attorney.
Ferriday, LA
Defendant:: Fontaine C. Gremillion
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $110,848
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: This wife and mother of Louisiana state court judges and veteran's daughter pleaded guilty to embezzling VA benefits for seven years. Last year lost appeal of two-year prison sentence.
Sulphur, LA
Defendant:: Paulette Wheeler Pete
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $1,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Among the lowest restitution amounts. Five years probation, but discharged early in September 2007.
Lake Charles, LA
Defendant:: Cleveland Jones
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $4,432
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Appointed and removed as fiduciary twice in both 1989 and 1990. Despite those actions, he continued to control the veteran's accounts and a 2004 VA audit in 2004 found he was still diverting money. Defense attorney said Jones was suffering from "mental disease". Sentenced to 149 days in prison.
Wells, ME
Defendant:: Mary G. Kendrick
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $19,547
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Poor communications among VA, social security and group homes hampered detection of ongoing theft from fiduciary’s father, a World War II veteran, court records show. Two years probation and restitution.
Waterville, ME
Defendant:: Lorraine M. Rich
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $27,675
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Fiduciary used aunt's money for more than two years after aunt died, without the VA checking on aunt's welfare or whereabouts. Sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to participate in mental health treatment and drug or alcohol abuse therapy.
Nobleboro, ME
Defendant:: Marsha Jacobs
Prosecution Year:: 2012
Loss or restitution:: $74,000
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Four-year deception. Claimed veteran spent $800 in one month for cigarettes. Poor oversight left the total amount of losses unknown, ranging from $74,000 to $279,000.
Scituate, MA
Defendant:: Charles S. Medici
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $13,064
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: After a town official complained, the VA and local authorities shut down retirement home owned by Medici -- and occupied by 19 veterans -- for "safety issues." Medici received deferred prosecution and ordered to pay restitution for using VA benefit money of one veteran after he had moved away for treatment and died. Medici claimed he was unaware of death and was "holding room" for him.
Apple Valley, MN
Defendant:: Connie Marie Hanson
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $1,259,619
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Gambling addict charged 34 veterans excessive fees and otherwise plundered their accounts between April 2003 and February 2009, according to investigation records obtained by Hearst. “Routinely” paid herself $3,000 a month fee from a veteran who made less than that in benefits. Pocketed $5,000 from a dead veteran. Almost all of the purloined $1.26 million was from VA benefits or covered by veteran’s surety bonds. But Social Security apparently did only audit, in 2006, which missed thefts. Hanson told interviewers she increased stealing after audit. Caught when $164,000 in ATM withdrawals at Minneapolis-area casinos were noticed by local law enforcement task force. Sentenced in March 2010 to 55 months in prison and restitution. Told investigators she thought of confessing but “she had trouble making the call”.
Falcon Heights, MN
Defendant:: Karl Richard Bushmaker
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $90,500
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Greedy" court-appointed conservator swindled dozens of frail elderly and mentally disabled veterans to finance his X-rated lifestyle, court records show. Independent contractor blew whistle to county attorney's investigator in February 2003. Search warrants unveiled massive spending on sex toys, diet pills, clothing, house decorations, topiaries and a "painting of the Virgin and Child", according to court records. 4 1/2 years in prison. Died in February 2009.
St. Paul, MN
Defendant:: Joyce Sue Linehan
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $576,362
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Stole from stroke victims. One veteran lost a home as a result; another had a car repossessed. Burned records when clients complained. Used a dozen accounts to cover tracks. Court ordered psychiatric counseling plus 45 months prison. Most of the losses were social security monies, but five VA victims were given priority for restitution.
Kansas City, MO
Defendant:: Mary A. Ebberts
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $116,500
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Stole from her father while acting as his fiduciary. Sentenced to 8 months incarceration for misdemeanor theft. While in prison, her father died. By then, she had paid only $575 in restitution, still owing nearly $116,000. She waived any interest she had in any inheritance or insurance proceeds from her father's estate, otherwise the estate would have been kept open "indefinitely" while she tried to make restitution payments.
Manchester, NH
Defendant:: Lisa R. McFarland
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $244,673
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Court recommended she be sent to medical facility for "psychiatric and psychological" treatment when she was sentenced to 18 months in prison. For more than three years she stole a small fortune from her father while acting as a VA fiduciary.
Albuquerque, NM
Defendant:: Karen T. Herrera-Baca
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $28,897
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Gambling addict, according to court records, and former corrections officer.
Syracuse, NY
Defendant:: Sharon M. Wilson
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $57,604
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: I lost myself," said paralegal and church official with no prior criminal record. She stole hundreds of times from two elderly disabled veterans but VA accepted her excuses for four consecutive delinquent and falsified annual accountings, court records show. VA should have heeded a prior warning; she filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1998, two years before VA appointed her as a fiduciary. Thefts ended in 2007. Paid full restitution immediately and was praised in letters to the court. Sentenced to three years probation with six months home detention.
Buffalo, NY
Defendant:: Kathleen Miller
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $12,460
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Fiduciary appointed despite suffering from multiple physical issues and panic attacks.
Buffalo, NY
Defendant:: Jerome M. Whigham
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $46,979
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Apologized to judge for appearing at sentencing hearing intoxicated. Sentenced to five years probation, required to undergo substance abuse testing and pay restitution.
Swansboro, NC
Defendant:: William Ruffus Carter and Angela Siobhan Carter
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $152,283
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Couple exploited an elderly veteran, David Fraser, with some of the ill-gotten, six-figure gains spent on "drugs" and alcohol, court records say. Court ordered William Ruffus Carter to get "substance abuse treatment" and Angela Siobhan Carter to get "mental health evaluation". Both were sentenced to prison.
Sylva, NC
Defendant:: Thomas W. Jones
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $778,379
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Case against Jones, an attorney, started with bank fraud and grew to involve his fiduciary activities. Hints of political scandal because of bank case. Four-year prison term and large restitution for a number of crimes including misappropriation by fiduciary, money laundering and bank fraud, according to court records. As of October, despite garnishment, he still owed $768,336 in restitution.
North Wilkesboro, NC
Defendant:: Diana Gail Owens
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $10,357
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Sentenced to probation for exploitation of an elderly disabled adult.
Akron, OH
Defendant:: Richard A. Britton Jr.
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $10,457
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Sentenced to five years probation and 150 hours of community service for theft of government funds in VA fiduciary program, court records show.
Circleville, OH
Defendant:: Christina Lynn
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $305,118
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Warning sign was 1992 Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing as well as bipolar disorder and other psychological problems, according to court records. As a fiduciary and legal assistant in law firm, Lynn embezzled from veterans and others with trust accounts for six years. Sentenced to more than two years prison and restitution. Defense attorney Dennis Belli told Hearst the VA didn’t take “basic” precautions in overseeing Lynn.
Antlers, OK
Defendant:: Sandra R. Blalack
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $43,683
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Embezzled money for more than seven years before she was caught, according to court records. Sentenced to six months home detention and three years probation plus restitution.
Wynona, OK
Defendant:: Carol Minnerup
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $15,171
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Defrauded her father, according to court records.
Coweta, OK
Defendant:: Debbie L. Griffith (Spencer or Chisum)
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $14,299
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Family rescued Korea veteran, 73, from "sham marriage" to woman, 39, according to court records. VA declared her fiduciary for “husband” David Norvell. Warning signs included previous Griffith bankruptcy proceeding in 1996. She drove veteran into his own bankruptcy declaration in 2004 and monetary losses higher than the court-ordered restitution. "Wife" Griffith sent to prison and barred from gambling. She was able to reduce her restitution amount on appeal.
Tulsa, OK
Defendant:: Patrick Wayne Manning Jr.
Prosecution Year:: 2004 & 2008
Loss or restitution:: $26,437
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Had a criminal record even before VA appointed him fiduciary for his uncle. (He had a murder charge that had been dismissed on a technicality.) He was imprisoned for stealing from uncle and later went on a robbery spree after being released, court records show.
Midwest City, OK
Defendant:: Angeline Carrillo
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $10,839
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Was her brother's fiduciary and continued to use his VA benefits for herself after brother was imprisoned for rape, records show. She got probation.
Oklahoma City, OK
Defendant:: Trisha D. Fish
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $362,644
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Tribal court appointed Fish as guardian for her son, 6, after boy’s father, her ex, died in Iraq. That was days before son's VA-managed life insurance check arrived. Defense attorney argued that the tribal court and VA were irresponsible for entrusting huge check to a poorly-educated woman who was abusing a prescription drug. Fish spent the windfall on extravagances, friends, vacations, a psychic and Xanax, court records say. Boy’s grandmother blew the whistle. Fish sentenced to 36 months prison plus mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Oklahoma City, OK
Defendant:: Karen S. Taylor
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $14,064
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Warning signs included 2004 bankruptcy petition and history of alcohol abuse, including a 1999 DUI conviction. "Overwhelming" stress hit fiduciary while caregiver for parents. She spent incapacitated mother's VA benefits "for personal use and to fix things at our house", according to court records. Worked for a dentist, was a barrel racer and rose fancier. Sentenced to 30 days in jail, served on weekends, and 5 years probation plus restitution. Nearly incarcerated again by judge in March for violating probation terms, court records show.
Ramona, OK
Defendant:: Margaret Chitwood
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $9,900
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Sixty-four year old woman undergoing breast cancer treatment was confronted in her nightgown at home by VA agent and a sheriff's deputy. Admitted commingling and misusing disabled brother's VA funds. Was appointed fiduciary in February 2000. No training, just a brief letter containing instructions, which is typical in VA fiduciary program. Pressed for an accounting after nearly two years of not turning one in, she forked over a box of records. It revealed commingled funds, court records show. Sentenced to 6 months home detention and 3 years probation, plus restitution.
Canonsburg, PA
Defendant:: Jeffrey Rubis
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $10,128
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: California and Pennsylvania resident accused of taking money from mother who lived in Pennsylvania. He filed bankruptcy petitions one and two years before thefts. He completed the pre-trial diversion in February 2012 and case was dismissed
Havertown, PA
Defendant:: George Guyer Young III
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $38,000
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Fiduciary for 78 veterans forged signatures of relatives when veterans died. Cashed in life insurance and filed false financial accounts with VA, according to a press release from then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Meehan, now a congressman. Monthly commissions as VA fiduciary totaled $5,000 -- all paid by the veterans -- and at one time was in charge of $1.5 million in assets. Young, then an attorney, was sentenced to 14-months prison and $10,000 fine.
Glen Mills, PA
Defendant:: Speroula Fotiades-Alexander
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $105,818
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Stole six figures from 4 disabled veterans over a seven year period, according to the U.S. Attorney's office press release. Was an attorney, Sent to prison for 21 months for theft of government property. Ordered to participate in drug aftercare treatment program and to participate in mental health treatment. Last document in court file (November 2008) said she was working in her mother's delicatessen "where she earns $500 a month" -- all going to restitution -- while her husband is a truck driver. Had a long way to go ($90,000) to pay off debt.
Erie, PA
Defendant:: Cheryl A. Tobin
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: Unavailable
Range: Unavailable
Summary:: Served three years probation. No restitution mentioned. Key document sealed for 25 years in February 2009
Washington, PA
Defendant:: Dianne L. Kennedy
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $54,321
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Skimmed over $54,000 from accounts of 34 helpless people served by non-profit organization in Pittsburgh. Faced prosecution four years after caught. Pleaded guilty, but successfully appealed her 18 month prison sentence. She called it "office accounting manipulations". Prison term reduced to 13 1/2 months. As of April, a decade after crime, had paid $290 in restitution, court records show.
Butler, PA
Defendant:: Randy Elash
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $25,959
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Ashamed" son misused mother's benefits. Three-year delay in prosecution meant she died just seven months after he was indicted, and he became heir of the restitution that he was ordered to pay, court records show. Sentenced also to six month home detention during five-year probation.
Philadelphia, PA
Defendant:: Gail Mansell
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $54,662
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Convicted of theft from veteran or veterans; ordered to pay $54,662 restitution.
Columbia, SC
Defendant:: Dwight L. Douglas
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $7,803
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Ten years before VA appointed him as a fiduciary, he was convicted in state court for strong arm robbery, records show. Embezzled money as VA-appointed fiduciary in 2003 and 2004. Pled guilty in 2006 and spent a year in prison. Thrown into prison again in April for committing more crimes while on supervised release.
Moncks Corner, SC
Defendant:: Andrea Johnson
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: $61,508
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Former nursing home administrator sentenced to five months in jail, 100 hours community service and restitution after for embezzling money from residents, according to state attorney press release and Associated Press story. Court records not available.
Kingsport, TN
Defendant:: Douglas Allen Harris
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $11,800
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Brookhaven Manor nursing home social work director "bought" van valued at $13,000 from addled resident John Holder for only $1,200 and stole some of his money, said William Harper, assistant district attorney for Sullivan County, who prosecuted the case. The VA was the savior in this instance. Federal officials, discovered the crime while entering the victim into the VA's fiduciary program. "People started asking questions," said Harper. Harris sentenced 3 years prison, $2,000 restitution and surrendered van. He also was placed on a state elder abuse registry.
Cordova, TN
Defendant:: Robert Tabbutt and Jack Perry
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $889,629
Range: $500,000 to $2 million
Summary:: Two insiders, a VA official and the lawyer he oversaw as a fiduciary, stole nearly $900,000 from at least ten veterans over a decade and used some of their ill-gotten gains to gamble. They began to steal from veterans in 1999 after Tabbutt began borrowing money from Perry. Tabbutt retired from VA after 33 years in 2002, but the thefts continued. When one of the veterans died, Perry feared the final accounting would expose them, so he went to FBI. They pleaded guilty in August 2011, but nine months later Hearst found that even the veterans and their families who lost the most money were had not been told they had been victimized.
Kingsport, TN
Defendant:: Eulys V. Walton Jr.
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $23,620
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Walton embezzled $23,620 and received five years probation for his crime.
Coppell, TX
Defendant:: Hazel D. Hill
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $66,173
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Federal government worker and leading fiduciary who recruited others to the program. Daughter of bootlegger who graduated college. Eluded VA scrutiny for a year and a half but turned herself in citing "remorse" and said she only stole from three veterans. Claimed "significant mental health issues" and ordered by U.S. District Court in Oklahoma, where she was prosecuted, to undergo treatment. Also ordered by court to stay away from gambling establishments. Five years probation and 104 hours of community service.
Sanger, TX
Defendant:: Judy B. Venable
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $86,737
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Convicted of felony theft of public property, $86,736 in restitution payments ordered.
Austin, TX
Defendant:: Virginia A. Lingafelt
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $32,326
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
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, TX
Defendant:: Deborah Buller
Prosecution Year:: 2003
Loss or restitution:: Unavailable
Range: Unavailable
Summary:: Misdemeanor conviction, no details available.
Marshall, TX
Defendant:: Tammy L. Nutt
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: Unavailable
Range: Unavailable
Summary:: Convicted of theft of government property; details unavailable.
Texarkana, TX
Defendant:: Roger Wilgus
Prosecution Year:: 2005
Loss or restitution:: $87,780
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
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, TX
Defendant:: John Dean Cearley
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $15,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Pleaded guilty to lesser charge
Houston, TX
Defendant:: Bohdan Sunshine Welch
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $40,677
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Convicted of theft of government funds and initially ordered to pay $14,000 in restitution. Probation later revoked in 2008 after he failed to pay. Ordered to prison for two months and ordered to pay higher restitution of $40,676.57
El Paso, TX
Defendant:: Jennifer Lynn Clere
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: Unavailable
Range: Unavailable
Summary:: Theft case, no details available.
Pasadena, TX
Defendant:: Mildred Fedd
Prosecution Year:: 2004
Loss or restitution:: $3,484
Range: Less than $20,000
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 pick-up truck out of an impoundment lot and make house payments.
Waco, TX
Defendant:: David Fram
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $126,250
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
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 in restitution by 2011.
Houston, TX
Defendant:: Laura Hunter
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: 31000 to $54,319
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Named fiduciary for her disabled brother, despite the fact she had two previous misdemeanor theft convictions(in 1997 and 1999). She subsequently misused $31,000 of his money in part for gambling. Thefts begin April 1, 2004 and continued through August 1, 2005. VA estimated losses as $54,319; but court found some money had been spent for the benefit of her brother and his family.
Murchison, TX
Defendant:: Wanda G. Myers (LaMarche)
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $35,000
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
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, TX
Defendant:: Charles D. Stange, Jr.
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $272,802
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Stange was convicted of repeatedly taking out 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 a portion of the estimated $272,802 in thefts. Stange died in 2011, a few months after his release from prison.
Fort Worth, TX
Defendant:: Patricia Ibrahim
Prosecution Year:: 2009
Loss or restitution:: $9,715
Range: Less than $20,000
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.
Floresville, TX
Defendant:: Rose Rodriguez
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $1,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Received deferred adjudication after being charged with theft from an elderly person, VA estimated theft at $1,000
Mission, TX
Defendant:: Jose Roberto Murillo
Prosecution Year:: 2008
Loss or restitution:: $30,090
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Defendant took approximately $30,090 from a veteran, described as a relative, whose finances he was supposed to oversee.
San Antonio, TX
Defendant:: Eulalia Avila and Rosa Avila
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $180,000
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
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 was generous and regularly agreed to give his money away.
Buffalo, TX
Defendant:: Heidi Chapa
Prosecution Year:: 2010
Loss or restitution:: $3,000 to $4,000
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Theft of public money, estimated by prosecutors at about $3,000 to $4,000
Texarkana, TX
Defendant:: Tiawa Braxton
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $45,126
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: This self-styled hip hop artist was appointed to be fiduciary for his father Charles, who died in September 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. Received 3 years probation
Fort Worth, TX
Defendant:: Yolanda Robinson (Bryant)
Prosecution Year:: 2012
Loss or restitution:: $9,305
Range: Less than $20,000
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 - a year later - by a VA Field Examiner conducting a routing annual examination.
Corpus Christi, TX
Defendant:: Robert I. Ericson
Prosecution Year:: 2001
Loss or restitution:: $38,158
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Former Corpus Christi attorney, appointed as guardian for disabled veteran, was sentenced in Houston to 1 year and 1 day in prison for taking more than $13,000 in veteran's benefits. Ordered to pay $38,158 in restitution and sentenced to three years of supervised release.
Corpus Christi, TX
Defendant:: Colin Kaufman and Andrew Huffmeyer
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $400,000
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Disbarred attorney, who was not a fiduciary, carried out a criminal fraud with the help of an accomplice, Andrew Huffmeyer, who was a fiduciary. The two "conspired to divert about $400,000 from Carothers’ estate, which was valued at about $960,000," according to a Texas Office of the Attorney General press release about the case. Among many suspect charges, the two billed the estate $49,000 for a trip to the Northeast supposedly to change a signature card for a bank account - normally a simple and inexpensive process. Kaufman had previously been disbarred in 2004 by the State of Texas due to unethical and illegal actions in a federal bankruptcy case. Huffmeyer pleaded guilty to misapplication of fiduciary property and was sentenced to five years. Kaufman was fined $10,000 and ordered to serve a 45-year sentence.
Snohomish, WA
Defendant:: Linda Johnson
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $16,020
Range: Less than $20,000
Summary:: Hairdresser suffering "serious gambling addiction" gained control of father's VA and Social Security funds which she used "to fund her gambling losses", court records show. Had a change of heart and turned herself in. Told Hearst this has "really screwed up" her life and that she is working hard to overcome gambling urge. Home confinement for 90 days began in May. Probation ordered for two years, plus restitution.
Puyallup, WA
Defendant:: Christina May
Prosecution Year:: 2006
Loss or restitution:: $149,000
Range: $100,000 to $499,000
Summary:: Like other fiduciaries, May complained she "received no instructions" from VA to handle teen-age niece's money after the father, a veteran, died. Niece sued aunt, uncle and an attorney in state court to recover $149,000 in a June 2006 settlement that included VA money plus social security, annuity proceeds and life insurance and $17,612 in VA benefits. May got 3 yrs probation.
Vancouver, WA
Defendant:: Richard Eugene Proudfoot
Prosecution Year:: 2007
Loss or restitution:: $48,351
Range: About $40,000
Summary:: Nephew used power of attorney to drain at least $65,000 from aunt, who raised him, court records show. Suffering from dementia, profits gone from sale of house, the aunt faced eviction from nursing home. Money intended for her from VA, social security and pension poured in for 3 years and was stolen by Proudfoot even as state Adult Protective Services investigated him, say court documents. Sent to prison, but afterwards failed to pay dime of the $40,000 court-ordered restitution (which later increased to $48,351). Had prior record.
Hayward, WI
Defendant:: Karen C. Demain
Prosecution Year:: 2011
Loss or restitution:: $20,473
Range: $20,000 to $99,000
Summary:: Fiduciary sentenced to five months in prison is currently appealing the amount of restitution that was ordered.
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