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.

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