United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California
Kings County Woman Arraigned for Stealing VA Benefits
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Docket #: 1:12-CR-0446-LJO
FRESNO, Calif. — Nora Diane Collins, 59, of Armona, was arraigned today on an indictment charging her with stealing benefits paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, forging endorsements on U.S. Treasury checks, and passing U.S. Treasury checks bearing forged endorsements, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Collins entered a plea of not guilty.
According to court documents, Collins’s husband received benefits paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) until his death in December 2007. For two years after his death, Collins unlawfully received and spent the VA benefits totaling approximately $76,998. Collins never notified the VA that her husband was deceased. On several occasions, Collins forged her husband’s signature to the benefit checks and passed them at a convenience store, telling the store clerk that her husband was disabled and unable to cash the check himself.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Baker is prosecuting the case.
If convicted, Collins faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.