Former Charity President Sentenced for Embezzling Money
Defendant Admitted Using $149,137 for Clubs, Hotels, Restaurants, and Women
WASHINGTON – John Thomas Burch, 75, of Alexandria, Virginia, was sentenced today to five months of incarceration, to be followed by five months of home detention, for embezzling at least $149,317 while he was the president of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, announced U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Andrew Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Burch pled guilty in June 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to wire fraud. He was sentenced by the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson. Following his jail term, Burch will be placed on two years of supervised release, with the first five months of that on home detention. He also was ordered to pay $75,000 in a forfeiture money judgment.
According to a statement of offense submitted at the time of the plea, Burch was the president of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation, Inc. (“NVVF”), a nonprofit organization incorporated in Washington, D.C., until 2016 when it was disbanded. NVVF solicited donations from the public, representing that their mission was “to provide help and support for American Veterans and their families through the generosity of the American people.” While the NVVF utilized some of its donated revenues to support the NVVF’s purported mission, Burch misappropriated portions of the donations to pay for food and lodging with no business purpose, and made repeated payments to women, who were personal acquaintances of Burch.
Burch had unilateral control over the NVVF’s “Emergency Assistance Program,” which accounted for tens of thousands of dollars of the NVVF’s operating expenses annually during the years 2012 to 2016. Burch represented to the NVVF’s Board of Directors the Emergency Assistance Program was a discretionary program that he ran as President of the NVVF, and that in fact, there was no oversight of Burch’s spending from the program in the distribution of smaller grants, generally between $100 to $300. In spite of Burch’s representation to NVVF employees and the Board of Directors that individual grants generally ran from $100 to $250 with the intent of providing only a one-time payment to recipients who were “usually Veteran family members with small children who are in chronic destitute circumstances,” Burch used the Emergency Assistance Program to give money to women who often were engaged in personal relationships with him. Burch also submitted expense reports claiming reimbursements for business lodging, travel, and meals, when in reality he spent the money on personal visits to clubs, restaurants, and hotels in Baltimore.
According to the government’s evidence, Burch spent at least $149,317 of the charity’s money on non-business related travel, clubs, restaurants, hotels, and women between the years 2012 and 2016.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Assistant Director in Charge Vale expressed appreciation for the work performed by those who investigated the case from the Washington Field Office of the FBI. They also acknowledged the efforts of those working on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialist Christopher Toms and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Bateman, who is assisting with forfeiture issues. Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Virginia Cheatham, who prosecuted the case.