[b]VA Prosecutes Defrauders of Veterans [/b]
Nicholson: "Full Force of Law" to Protect Earned Benefits
WASHINGTON (June 12, 2007) - Continuing a long-standing campaign to
identify and prosecute those who defraud veterans of their rightful
benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently highlighted
several successes by its Inspector General in investigating people who
mishandle the finances of veterans and family members unable to manage
their own affairs.
"VA is committed to protecting our veterans, especially our most
vulnerable veterans. We will investigate and help bring charges against
anyone suspected of defrauding veterans of the disability compensation
or any other assistance they have earned," said Secretary of Veterans
Affairs Jim Nicholson. "Fiduciary fraud is a heinous crime. We will
bring the full force of law against offenders."
Among recent cases successfully prosecuted as a result of investigations
by VA's Office of the Inspector General:
*[b] Los Angeles resident Anne Chavis pleaded guilty to perjury and
forgery in embezzling $1 million from veterans who were too disabled to
handle their own financial matters. She is awaiting sentencing.
* The daughter and son-in-law of an elderly Alaskan veteran with
Alzheimer's disease diverted about $500,000 from the veteran to make
personal purchases while failing to pay the veteran's bills. Phyllis
Talas was sentenced to 60 months' probation, and Frank Talas to six
months' incarceration and 36 months' probation.
* A Washington state woman overseeing her niece's VA benefits pleaded
guilty to misappropriating funds and was sentenced to 36 months of
probation. Christina May diverted to her personal use funds from VA's
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation awarded to her under-age niece.
From January 2005 through April 5 this year, VA's Office of Inspector
General investigated 61 cases of alleged fiduciary fraud. Twenty-seven
people were indicted on related charges, of whom 19 have been convicted
so far. Resulting penalties have included $1.9 million in court-ordered
restitution for veterans or their estates, 191 months' imprisonment and
838 months of probation.[/b]
To report suspected fraud involving veterans benefits, other crimes,
fraud, waste or mismanagement in the VA, please contact the Office of
Inspector General Hotline at 1-800-488-8244 or email at