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Press Release

Oceanside Man Admits to Stealing Benefits Intended for Widow of Military Veteran

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924 and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew C. Brehm (619) 546-7951

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – September 5, 2018

SAN DIEGO – Michael Vanden Brink pleaded guilty today to stealing thousands of dollars in benefits intended for the widow of a military veteran.  During his plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler this morning, Brink admitted that after the widow’s death in 2004, he converted her benefits paid out by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to his own use.

Brink, 57, acknowledged that H.C.C., the spouse of a deceased veteran, began to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits in 1972.  Sometime prior to March 2004, H.C.C. began to receive those benefits via direct deposit into a bank account in both her name and Brink’s.

Brink acknowledged that H.C.C. died on June 30, 2004, at her home in Oceanside, California, and that he was aware of her death and that her benefits should have ceased immediately upon her death.  Brink further acknowledged that he knew that he was not entitled to H.C.C.’s benefits, and that he knew that the money rightfully belonged to the United States.

As a part of his plea, Brink admitted that he received a monthly bank statement for the account, and that he never informed the bank that H.C.C.’s monthly benefits should cease.  Instead, Brink admitted that from July 1, 2004 until February 26, 2014, only he had access to and control of all funds in the bank account, and that during that time he converted a total of $145,035 in United States’ money to his own use.

 “For almost a decade, this defendant stole thousands of dollars intended to help the families of our brave men and women in uniform,” said United States Attorney Adam L. Braverman.  “This prosecution demonstrates the commitment of the United States Attorney’s Office to protecting the integrity of programs for our veterans and their families.”

“This investigation demonstrates the OIG’s commitment to aggressively pursue individuals who defraud VA programs.  The VA OIG will continue to identify criminal activity in order to protect the integrity of VA programs.” said Special Agent in Charge A.E. Pleasant, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, Western Field Office.

As a part of his plea agreement, Brink agreed to pay $145,035 in restitution to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  Brink faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $390,060 at his sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge John A. Houston on December 10, 2018. 

DEFENDANT                       Case Number 18-cr-3894       

Michael Vanden Brink           Oceanside, CA.


Theft of Public Property – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 641

Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment, $390,060 fine, restitution


U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Office of Inspector General – Criminal Investigations Division

Updated September 5, 2018

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: CAS18-0905-Brink