DESPERATION NO EXCUSE FOR FRAUD AGAINST
United States Attorney Barbara L McQuade announced that on July 18, 2011, Michael Andrews, age 50, of Gaylord, Michigan, was sentenced to 3 years of federal probation and ordered to pay over $19,105 in restitution to the Department of Veteran Affairs. The sentenced was imposed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles E. Binder in Bay City, Michigan.
On March 29, 2011, Andrews entered a pre-indictment guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of embezzlement of funds belong to the United States and the VA. As part of his guilty plea, Andrews admitted under oath that, starting in at least June of 2006, he, as owner of Access Michigan Vans, Inc., obtained payments totaling $19,105.94 from the Department of Veterans Affairs on contracts made through the VA Medical Center in Saginaw, Michigan. The contracts were for the installation of handicap ramps at the homes of three veterans. Andrews admitted that he did not install the three handicap ramps, and instead kept the money paid on the contracts for his own use.
In imposing Andrews’ sentence, Magistrate Judge Binder agreed with the government’s observation that the real victims of Andrews’ offense were the disabled veterans who had turned to the VA for the assistance to which they were entitled. The veterans but did not get the handicap ramps they needed, despite the efforts of the VA on their behalf, because Andrews used the money paid to him in advance by the VA to pay other obligations rather than to build the ramps. Magistrate Judge Binder added that Andrews’ financial desperation was no excuse for committing fraud against veterans or stealing from the United States.
The case was investigated by the Department of Veteran Affair’s Office of Inspector General, based in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office located in Bay City, Michigan.