Former State Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft of Funds
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A former employee of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security pleaded guilty today to defrauding the government of approximately $198,000 in funds paid under the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act (FECA), commonly referred to as workers’ compensation.
According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, James Cason Overton, 38, of Newport News, was injured in work-related training in August 2011, just months after the U.S. Department of State hired him. The U.S. Department of Labor, the administrator of FECA benefits, determined Overton was entitled to a monthly benefit equal to 75% of his salary, resulting in monthly payments between September 2011 and March 2016 totaling $198,633.67. During that timeframe, Overton answered questions about his earnings and employment on four different U.S. Department of Labor questionnaires, reporting a total of only $2,330 in earnings. According to the statement of facts, Overton knew that he made false statements about his earnings and employment on each questionnaire because he omitted from the questionnaires that he was the president and majority owner of a company identified in court documents as COMPANY A. During the time Overton was paid FECA benefits, COMPANY A received approximately $260,000 in government contracts, including contracts from the U.S. Department of State, exceeded $2,078,219 in gross profits, and Overton was personally paid approximately $370,000 in salary or other earnings.
According to the plea agreement, Overton agreed to restitution and forfeiture for the entire amount of the FECA benefits he fraudulently received. He also agreed to pay $3,650 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Education because, according to the statement of facts, he made false statements about his income that led to his receipt of Federal Pell Grants at a university he attended.
Overton pleaded guilty to theft of government funds, and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when sentenced on September 22. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Steve A. Linick, Inspector General for the Department of State; Aaron R. Jordan, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General; and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian D. Harrison is prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:17-cr-107.