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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Prosecutes Defrauders of Veterans

June 12, 2007

Printable Version


Nicholson: “Full Force of Law” to Protect Earned Benefits

WASHINGTON – 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:

  • 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.

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 vaoighotline@va.gov.  

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