News and Press Releases

Virginia Beach Coast Guardsman Pleads Guilty to False Claims

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2014

NORFOLK, Va. – Jeffrey T. Byrne, 43, pleaded guilty today to charges of making false claims against the United States Coast Guard (USCG).          

Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and Marty J. Martinez, Special Agent in Charge, Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS), Chesapeake Region, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States Magistrate Judge Lawrence R. Leonard.      

Byrne was charged by criminal information on March 25, 2014 with presenting false claims to the USCG.  Byrne faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced on July 2, 2014 by Chief United States District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith.  

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, in September 2011, Byrne, a USCG reservist assigned to a duty station in Portsmouth, Virginia, received activation orders.  Byrne, who at the time resided in Hampton Roads, claimed that his permanent address was Frisco, North Carolina.  By claiming Frisco, Byrne was allowed to claim higher lodging and per diem costs based on living more than fifty miles from his assigned duty location.  He also began renting a home from his then girlfriend, whom he later married, even though reservists are prohibited from renting their temporary lodging from friends or family.  In July 2012, Byrne married his girlfriend and continued to file lodging and receipts using his spouse’s maiden name, even after she legally changed her last name.  He also continued to enter a false name and date of birth for his spouse on USCG dependent documents in order to prevent the USCG from detecting the fraud.  When CGIS investigators interviewed Byrne on January 24, 2104 regarding his expense claims, he admitted to the fraud.  Byrne has since paid back the estimated loss of $112,346.78 to the U.S. Coast Guard Finance Center, Chesapeake, Virginia.   

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Coast Guard Investigative Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Stephen W. Haynie and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Austin D. Shutt, United States Coast Guard, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.      

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.justice.gov/usao/vae. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov or on https://pcl.uscourts.gov.

 

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