News and Press Releases

Cashed His Mother’s VA Benefit Checks for Years after Her Death

September 19, 2007

STEPHEN C. BATES, 75, of Seattle, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Unlawful Conversion of Public funds, a felony, involving the misappropriation of Veterans Affairs benefits. BATES is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman on December 18, 2007.

According to the plea agreement, from 1996 through 2005, BATES negotiated Veterans Affairs (VA) benefit checks from the Department of Treasury, intended solely for the benefit of his mother, who had died, knowing he was not entitled to such checks and benefits. BATES’ mother was the wife of a deceased veteran, and as such, was entitled to receive VA benefits through her life. Once she died, there was no longer any right to such funds. From the time of her passing, through November 2005, the United States continued to issue monthly VA benefit checks to BATES’ mother, unaware she was deceased. These checks were deposited via direct deposit into a bank account in her name in Seattle, Washington. BATES proceeded to withdraw the funds on a regular and repeated basis, knowing he was not entitled to such funds from the United States, and expended the funds, totaling approximately $120,452.00, for his own ends and purposes, in violation of law.

This offense is punishable by up to ten years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea agreement, BATES agreed to pay restitution to the United States of $120,452.00.

The case was investigated by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald J. Friedman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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