Former Government Employee Convicted of Defrauding Department of Veterans Affairs
Judge Also Orders Restitution for Welfare Fraud and Threatens Maximum Sentence if Probation is Violated
PORTLAND, Ore. – A former employee of the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and the Oregon Department of Justice was sentenced this week to probation for his theft of more than $56,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Bruce A. Endicott, 34, pled guilty last June to one count of theft of government funds from a six-count indictment. Endicott’s guilty plea was pursuant to a plea agreement, and included Endicott’s admissions to conduct over a course of three years that supported all six counts of the indictment. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced Endicott to a three-year term of probation, 250 hours of community service, and payment of full restitution.
According to court records and the government’s sentencing memorandum which included a detailed timeline of events, Endicott began receiving service-connected disability benefits through the VA in 2005, following his three years of Navy service in San Diego, Calif. In June 2012, Endicott filed an additional claim with the VA for Individual Unemployability (IU) benefits, claiming he was unemployed and unable to be employed due to his service-connected disabilities that included mental and physical impairments. Endicott also submitted a statement to the VA in February 2013, that stated he had not worked within the past 12 months, when in fact, Endicott was currently working at the Oregon Department of Justice under a second Social Security number that he had not disclosed to the VA. Based on Endicott’s false statements and concealments, the VA awarded him additional benefits and advised him to notify the VA immediately if he became employed.
Endicott left the Oregon Department of Justice in December of 2013, and began working for the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, and again failed to notify the VA he was working.
After Endicott left the District Attorney’s Office in May 2014, he applied for welfare benefits through the Oregon Department of Human Services (Oregon DHS), using the second Social Security number, and claimed to have no income. Endicott failed to disclose to Oregon DHS that he was receiving approximately $2,700 per month in VA benefits. Based on Endicott’s false statements and concealments, Oregon DHS awarded him Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (also known as food stamps) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) benefits.
In February 2015, Endicott submitted a statement to the VA regarding his IU claim, in which he failed to disclose his former employment with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, and falsely asserted that he had not worked in the past 12 months. As a result of his false statements and concealments, the VA continued to pay his IU benefits. Between June 2012 and October 2015, Endicott received approximately $47,947 in IU benefits, $5,996 in SNAP benefits, and $2,770 in TANF benefits to which he was not entitled.
In their argument for jail, the government noted the ongoing and repeated nature of Endicott’s fraud, his purchase of a $65,000 truck instead of paying past-due child support and restitution, the burden of his repeated false claims on the VA and Oregon DHS systems, and the detrimental affect his fraud had on truly deserving veterans whose benefits were delayed due to his conduct. Judge Jones warned Endicott that despite receiving probation, further wrongdoing would result in a much harsher sentence. As a condition of his probation, Endicott was ordered to participate in a mental health treatment program.
The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigations Division of the VA Office of Inspector General, Oregon DHS, and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations. The case was prosecuted by Helen Cooper, Special Assistant United States Attorney, as part of a partnership venture between the SSA Office of the General Counsel, Seattle Region and the United States Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon.