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Punishment doesn't fit the crime


Last updated 10/13/2021 at 10:56am | View PDF

One year ago, a federal grand jury indicted a Virginia woman for a whole raft of scams and fraud against veterans. Most disheartening is the fact that she was a former veteran.

There was a long laundry list (nine counts) of things she did. She had veterans apply for HISA grants (Home Improvements and Structural Alterations), which are for doing work on their homes and making improvements. Not only did she not complete the work, she pocketed the money.

Then she managed to have the income and retirement benefits of a veteran diverted into her own account. She took out loans in the elderly veteran’s name, with the money going into her pocket, and used the veteran’s credit and debit cards.

But she didn’t stop there. In another scheme, she linked veterans with landlords, but kept the money they paid for security deposits and rent.

The legal names for these are wire fraud and aggravated identity theft and involved 27 victims.

While a Department of Justice press release stated that “elder abuse and financial fraud targeted at seniors is a key priority,” nowhere in the sentencing does it call out the specific punishment for that. They carefully listed the types of elder abuse (physical abuse, financial fraud, scams and exploitation, caregiver neglect and abandonment, psychological abuse and sexual abuse), but don’t seem to have made it specifically part of this case.

At the time of the indictment, this miserable excuse for a human faced a possible 20 years in prison, plus two years after pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. In the recent sentencing, she got a mere 9.5 years.

Why is that? Why do the powers-that-be think it’s OK to give much shorter prison sentences to these people? Where is the deterrent in talking about the “serious nature of these fraud schemes” when you don’t follow it up with serious jail time?

(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.


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