Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Former Service Member Pleads Guilty to Theft Of U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits

A former U.S. Air Force service member pleaded guilty today in connection with a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Jacqueline Crawford, 33, of Gulfport, Mississippi, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of the District of Columbia to one count of conversion of government funds.  As part of her plea agreement, Crawford has agreed to forfeit $45,917. 

According to her plea agreement, in October 2014, Crawford spoke with a friend and former U.S. Air Force service member, who worked at the VA in Washington, D.C., and described her financial difficulties.  In response, her friend suggested that he could send her VA hardship money available to veterans and that all he needed was her bank account information.  Crawford agreed to this arrangement despite knowing that her friend was not obtaining the hardship money through proper channels.  He later asked Crawford to kick back a portion of the money she received to him, which she agreed to do despite knowing that it was wrong.  Between October 2014 and February 2015, Crawford received a total of seven unlawful special payments from the VA totaling $45,917.  Crawford admitted she kicked back $13,100 of the funds she received from her friend via 16 wire transfers, usually through Walmart2Walmart money grams. 

The VA Office of Inspector General Criminal Investigations Division investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is prosecuting the case.

Attorney General Announces Crime Reduction and Public Safety Task Force

Attorney General Jeff Sessions today announced the formation of the U.S. Department of Justice Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety. 

The Task Force was formed pursuant to the President’s Executive Order on a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety and will be chaired by the Deputy Attorney General.  Task Force members will be drawn from relevant Department components, and will include the Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Director of the FBI and the Director of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS).

“The President issued an executive order, and I feel strongly about it,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “On my first day in office, I called in the heads of the four major law enforcement agencies to discuss this plan.  Violent crime is on the rise, and we must always remember that crimes are committed against real people.  The creation of this task force is a critical step toward confronting this crisis vigorously, effectively and immediately.”

The task force is central to the Attorney General’s commitment to combatting illegal immigration and violent crime, such as drug trafficking, gang violence and gun crimes, and to restoring public safety to all of the nation’s communities.

The task force is charged with developing strategies to reduce crime; identifying deficiencies in existing laws and policies that have made them less effective in reducing crime and proposing new legislation and policies to improve public safety and reduce crime; evaluating the availability and adequacy of crime-related data and identifying measures to improve it; and conducting any other relevant studies.  In conducting its work, the task force will consult with federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement, law enforcement organizations and victims’ and community advocacy organizations, among others, to learn about successful local efforts and how they can best be supported at the federal level.

“For more than a hundred years the women and men of the FBI have worked to address threats to the American people,” said Director James Comey of the FBI.  “I look forward to continuing and building upon the great partnerships with our federal, state, local, and tribal counterparts on this initiative to combat violent crimes, gang activities and drug trafficking – all of which exact a high toll on our country.”

“The safety and well-being of our communities and our citizens is a vital part of our mission,” said Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg of the DEA.  “I look forward to our continued close work on the task force with our law enforcement partners on these crucial issues.”

“The men and women of the United States Marshals Service stand ready to work with our federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners to remove the underlying criminal element from our communities,” said Acting Director David L. Harlow of USMS. “In 2016, working with our task force partners, the USMS arrested over 106,000 violent fugitives. We look forward to finding innovative methods to further reduce violent crime across our nation.”

“ATF’s top priority is reducing violent crime,” said Acting Director Thomas Brandon of the ATF.  “Across the nation, ATF focuses its resources on arresting and prosecuting violent criminals who use firearms to terrorize communities.  ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers provide timely, actionable leads to our agents and our partner agencies so they can identify, investigate and apprehend trigger-pullers and those who illegally supply them with firearms.   ATF looks forward to working with Attorney General Sessions and our federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement counterparts to further enhance our violent crime reduction strategies through the Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety.”

Video: Examining Police Officer Crime

Dr. Philip Stinson, Bowling Green State University, discusses the findings of his research on crimes committed by police officers.

Based on the research findings, law enforcement officers appear to commit crimes at a much lower rate than the general public. However, in some cases, at times due to the stressors of the job and frequent exposure to trauma and violence, officers engage in misconduct or criminal behavior. The National Institute of Justice understands what’s at stake for public safety and officer wellness when we ignore warning signs of officers struggling with occupational hazards and other psychological hardships.

In this video, Dr. Stinson discusses what he learned about six different crimes (alcohol-related, drug-related, sex-related, violence-related, and profit-motivated crime).