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NE man ordered to pay VA back $170,000 for embezzling funds

Justice scale and flag. (St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office/WikiCommons)
December 13, 2018

An Omaha man has been convicted of embezzling funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Railroad Retirement Board and now he must make restitution to both agencies.

Michael Basile, 62, was sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Omaha by Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Stars & Stripes reported.

Judge Rossiter ordered Basile to serve five years of probation, serve 150 hours of community service, and to pay the Department of Veterans Affairs $62,255.56 and the Railroad Retirement Board $108,352.32.

From June 2014 through Sept. 2017, Basile allegedly contracted work that he completed and used his family member’s name for payment, so it wouldn’t be visible to VA and the retirement board, the Omaha World-Herald reported.

Basile was receiving income from both agencies based on a reported disability at the time, and was required to report any income, according to U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly.

The Veteran’s Administration and the Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General investigated the case.

With more people seeing the VA as an easy target, embezzlement and fraud are fairly common.

Earlier this month, an employee at the Fort Worth VA Outpatient Clinic was arrested and charged with theft of government funds for providing a false address to VA to steal more than $50,000 in travel reimbursements from the clinic, according to the Star-Telegram.

Gregory Wind of Fort Worth was employed in the Travel Benefits Section of the VA and was allowed to submit travel reimbursement for travel. Wind reported that he lived more than 100 miles away from the office and racked up nearly $60,000 in reimbursement funds.

Court records show that Wind received 657 payments of reimbursements between Sept. 2014 and Feb. 2018.

In November, a Louisiana woman was sentenced to a year in prison for stealing more than $100,000 in VA benefits from her deceased mother’s account, KALB News reported. Megan Elliott Wilson, 43, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $102,604.75 in restitution after pleading guilty in federal court.

According to her guilty plea, Wilson’s mother died in August of 2009, but officials were never notified. Wilson continued to receive her mother’s VA and SSA benefits. She received $77,942.75 in VA benefits and $24,662 in SSA benefits via direct deposit to a bank account in her mother’s name.

Wilson fraudulently withdrew the funds from the account online and also forged checks on the account, which she converted to cash for her own use.