3 charged in Temple VA fraud case – Temple Daily Telegram

The report, which also detailed alleged abuses of power and other possible criminal actions, prompted U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, to demand answers on questionable activities at the Temple VA, part of the Central Texas VA Medical Center.

Carter sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and VA Inspector General Michael Missal last year and said he expected changes

“Our military men and women have bravely served our nation, and I expect the VA system to provide the very best care when they return to civilian life,” Carter wrote. “I am encouraged by Central Texas VA Health Care System Director Christopher Sandles’ strong condemnation of the behavior by these employees, including his comment that a ‘day of reckoning’ has come for those employees that have mistreated veterans.

Federal authorities filed charges Wednesday against three Bell County residents in an alleged scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

A Temple couple — Christopher Sebek and Melissa Sebek — and Killeen resident Jeffrey Pearson, 55, are each charged for their alleged roles to defraud the VA of about $250,000.

Christopher Sebek, 55, operations supervisor in the Engineering Department at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple, and Pearson, owner and operator of Whitetail Industrial Parts and Service, a Temple VA contractor, are both charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of theft of government property.

Melissa Sebek, also 55, owner and operator of MS. Bookkeeping Services, faces a separate but related charge of one count of theft of government property.

The charges were announced late Wednesday by Waco-based U.S. Attorney John F. Bash of the Western District of Texas and Special Agent in Charge James Ross of the VA Office of Inspector General Criminal Investigations Division, South Central Field Office.

The charges resulted from VA investigations that uncovered a scheme at the Temple VA motor pool to secretly profit from VA purchase orders.

According to a preliminary report obtained by the Austin American-Statesman in November, investigators claimed they uncovered a complex scheme involving the VA motor pool that had funneled business to a Killeen firm, Whitetail Industrial Parts and Service, that made at least $400,000 by padding purchases with 30 percent surcharges. More than $1.3 million reportedly was funneled through Whitetail.

The report, which also detailed alleged abuses of power and other possible criminal actions, prompted U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, to demand answers on questionable activities at the Temple VA, part of the Central Texas VA Medical Center.

Carter sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and VA Inspector General Michael Missal last year and said he expected changes

“Our military men and women have bravely served our nation, and I expect the VA system to provide the very best care when they return to civilian life,” Carter wrote. “I am encouraged by Central Texas VA Health Care System Director Christopher Sandles’ strong condemnation of the behavior by these employees, including his comment that a ‘day of reckoning’ has come for those employees that have mistreated veterans.

The scheme to defraud the Temple VA began in February 2012, according to court records.

Christopher Sebek and Pearson allegedly agreed to steal money from the Temple VA. Over a five-year period, they allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices for payment reportedly for goods and services designated for the VA medical center. Sebek reportedly presented bogus invoices to the VA from his wife’s company.

Those invoices, however, were used by Sebek to pay for personal items and to cover Pearson’s 30 percent commission on each invoice. Court records allege that Sebek stole two VAMC credit cards and used them to pay for personal expenses.

If convicted, the defendants each face up to five years in federal prison on the conspiracy charge and up to 10 years in federal prison on the theft charge. All three will receive summonses for their initial appearance in federal court in Waco.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gloff is the prosecutor in the case.

http://www.tdtnews.com/news/article_e0399722-c1e4-11e8-9e62-cb5a04436f0c.html

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