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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

Monday, June 30, 2014

Camp Pendleton Marine Captain Sentenced To Prison For Multi-Year Housing And VA Fraud Schemes

Former U.S. Marine Captain Shawn A. Joyce was sentenced in federal court today to four months in prison followed by a year of home confinement for submitting tens of thousands of dollars in false lodging receipts to the Marine Corps and the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2009 to 2011. At the time of the offenses Joyce was on active-duty and stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

U.S. District Judge John A. Houston also ordered Joyce to pay over $90,000 in restitution.

Joyce pleaded guilty on August 21, 2013, to two counts of wire fraud. As detailed in his plea agreement, Joyce had initially been discharged from active duty in October 2008, entered the Marine Corps reserves, and thereafter sought and obtained orders placing him back on active duty at Camp Pendleton. Under certain circumstances, reservists who are called to active duty become eligible for a housing reimbursement benefit during the term of their active duty, in addition to the basic allowance for housing that they receive.

Joyce exploited this housing reimbursement benefit by falsely claiming reimbursement for rent that he never paid. Specifically, in 2009 and 2010, Joyce falsely claimed to be paying rent up to $4,030 per month for an address in Solana Beach. In 2011, Joyce falsely claimed to be paying rent of $3,700 per month for an address in Fountain Valley.

In order to conceal and disguise the fraud, Joyce submitted false rental receipts to the Marine Corps and created a fake email address in the name of his former landlord at the Solana Beach address. This email address was then used without his former landlord’s knowledge or consent to facilitate the fraud.

In his plea agreement, Joyce also admitted to devising a separate scheme to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs of tens of thousands of dollars. Under federal law, a service member receiving VA disability benefits is not entitled to simultaneously receive active duty compensation. To avoid this type of “double payment,” service members who receive VA disability benefits are required to inform the VA when they are placed on active duty.

Despite this regulation, Joyce failed to advise the VA and continued to receive VA disability benefits to which he was not entitled. Compounding the loss, Joyce contacted the VA from time to time trying to increase the amount of his improper disability payments.

Joyce pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud and acknowledged defrauding the Defense Department of $48,740 (count one) and the VA of $41,862 (count two). In his plea agreement, Joyce also agreed to pay restitution in the full amount of the losses.

This morning, Judge Houston ordered Joyce to pay those amounts back to the Defense Department and the VA as part of the sentence.

U.S. Attorney Duffy stated, “We will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who try to defraud this country’s Armed Forces or to cheat the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Special Agent in Charge Douglas J. Carver, VA Office of Inspector General Western Field Office in Los Angeles, said: “The Department of Veterans Affairs depends on the honesty of claims filed by our veterans. Cases like this are thoroughly investigated by the VA OIG to reclaim the VA’s limited resources to insure funds are properly paid to entitled veterans.”


Shawn A. Joyce

Age: 34 Encinitas, California

Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General
Naval Criminal Investigative Service

*Indictments and complaints are not evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged.  All defendants are presumed innocent until the United States meets its burden in court of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.     

Updated July 23, 2015