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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 21, 2018

Syracuse Woman Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Federal Government

Linda Sue Parnell Falsified Mileage Reimbursement Claims for More Than Six Years

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK – Linda Sue Parnell, age 63, of Syracuse, pled guilty yesterday in federal court in Utica to four counts of wire fraud for falsely obtaining more than $70,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor for mileage reimbursement claims between 2010 and 2016, announced United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Special Agent-in-Charge Sean J. Smith, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, Northeast Field Office.

In pleading guilty, Parnell admitted that after claiming to have sustained a back injury while working at a Veterans Affairs hospital she was approved to receive compensation benefits from the U.S Department of Labor relating to her claim. Specifically, the Department of Labor authorized Parnell to seek reimbursement for a membership to the YMCA of Greater Syracuse and to seek reimbursement for miles driven to and from the YMCA for the purpose of exercising to strengthen her back. The Department of Labor also authorized Parnell to seek reimbursement for miles driven to and from covered medical appointments. As part of her guilty plea yesterday, Parnell admitted that she defrauded the Department of Labor by submitting reimbursement claims for trips that she did not actually make to the YMCA, and by significantly inflating the mileage for those trips she did take to the YMCA and also to covered medical appointments. Specifically, Parnell claimed to have visited the YMCA more than 1,700 times between 2010 and 2016, though she actually visited the YMCA on approximately 50 occasions during this time. The investigation established that Parnell claimed to visit the YMCA on days she was actually traveling out of state, including dozens of times over a several-month period during which she resided in Pennsylvania. In total, the loss to the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs exceeded $70,000.

The charges to which Parnell pled guilty yesterday carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of up to 3 years. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors. Parnell will be sentenced in Utica on January 24, 2019, by United States District Judge David N. Hurd, who presided over Parnell’s change of plea hearing yesterday.

This case was investigated by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael F. Perry and Tamara Thomson.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Updated September 21, 2018