News and Press Releases

Easley Man Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2014

Contact Person: Bill Watkins (864) 282-2100

Columbia, South Carolina ----- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Tony Lee Holcombe, age 61, of Easley, South Carolina, pled guilty yesterday afternoon in federal court in Spartanburg, to theft of Government funds, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641.    United States District Judge Mary G. Lewis of Spartanburg accepted the plea and will impose sentence after she has reviewed the presentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.

In July 2010, the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) awarded Holcombe disability pension benefits for a non-service related impairment.  Holcombe was declared permanently and totally disabled.  In the letter informing Holcombe of his pension, the VA instructed Holcombe to report immediately if his income, status, or net worth increased or changed. 

In September 2012, the VA received an anonymous complaint indicating that Holcombe was operating a construction business while receiving a disability pension.  Agents investigated and found Holcombe on a job site where Holcombe was remodeling a home for a client. Holcombe admitted owning R&T Exteriors with another individual.  He explained that “We mainly do siding, boxing, and metal roofs.”  Holcombe indicated that he was a “silent” partner in the business and grossed a substantial amount of money. 

Agents continued their investigation of Holcombe and talked to former employees, co-workers, and contractors who confirmed that Holcombe was working and receiving undisclosed income during the period he was receiving VA benefits for permanent and total disability.  

The VA has calculated the overpayment amount as $33,470.00. 

Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty Tony Lee Holcombe can receive is a fine of $250,000 and/or imprisonment for 10 years, plus a special assessment of $100.

The case was investigated by agents of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General.  Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office handled the case.

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