Former Social Worker Sentenced for Role in Scheme to Defraud Department of Veterans Affairs and Obstructing Justice
A former Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) social work associate was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in a scheme to defraud the United States of her honest services in connection with her work finding suitable housing and daily care for mentally ill and disabled military veterans and then obstructing the VA’s investigation into the fraudulent scheme. U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story also ordered Bridgette L. Davidson, 39, to pay a $5,000 fine and to serve three years of supervised release following her release from prison.
On March 12, 2009, following a three-day jury trial, Davidson was found guilty of four counts of honest services mail fraud, one count of criminal conflict of interest, and one count of making a false statement to VA officials investigating the fraudulent scheme. Davidson and her ex-boyfriend, Darrick O. Frazier, 35, both of Atlanta, were charged in the six-count indictment on Nov. 14, 2006. On Sept. 2, 2008, Frazier pleaded guilty to one count of honest services mail fraud and entered into a plea agreement with the government. On Nov. 18, 2008, he was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison and ordered to pay $20,200 in restitution.
According to court documents, from September 2000 through September 2002, Davidson was employed as a social work associate with the Atlanta VA Medical Center. Among her duties, Davidson was entrusted with finding suitable housing and living arrangements for mentally ill and disabled military veterans. According to evidence presented at trial, rather than place the veterans entrusted to her care in independently-owned and licensed assisted living facilities, from November 2001 through mid-April 2002, Davidson, assisted by Frazier, secretly rented a home in Marietta, Ga., a city located several miles northwest of Atlanta, to house the mentally ill and disabled military veterans in exchange for monthly federal subsidy payments. During this time, trial evidence showed that Davidson falsely represented to VA officials and to the military veterans’ legal guardians and custodians that the facility was an independently-owned personal care home suitable to house and care for the veterans. Evidence at trial showed that Davidson and Frazier used the rental income obtained from the veterans housed at the facility to pay some of the rent, utilities and related expenses on the rental property, and then kept the excess revenue for their own personal benefit.
Evidence at trial revealed that on April 15, 2002, a veteran died in the home and the facility was immediately shut down. The VA launched an internal investigation into Davidson’s connection to the facility. When interviewed under oath by VA officials, trial testimony proved that Davidson falsely denied that she had any ownership or financial interest in the personal care home she and Frazier secretly owned and operated.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Armando O. Bonilla of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, headed by Section Chief William M. Welch II, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa D. Hoyt of the Northern District of Georgia. The case is being investigated by the VA Office of Inspector General.