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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, January 28, 2019

Oceanside Man Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Benefits Intended for Widow of Military Veteran

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey D. Hill (619) 546-7924 and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew C. Brehm (619) 546-8983

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – January 28, 2019

SAN DIEGO – Michael Vanden Brink of Oceanside was sentenced by U.S. District Judge John A. Houston today to eight months in federal prison for stealing over $145,000 in benefits intended for the widow of a military veteran.

At the time of his guilty plea on September 5, 2018, Brink admitted that after the widow’s death in 2004, he converted her Department of Veterans Affairs benefits to his own use.  Brink further acknowledged that he knew that he was not entitled to the victim’s benefits, and that he knew the money deposited into the widow’s bank account (over which he had control) rightfully belonged to the United States.  But rather than notifying the bank that the widow had died, he used the funds to pay for his own personal expenses, ultimately converting a total of $145,035 in Veterans Affairs money to his own use.

U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer commended prosecutors and the Criminal Investigators Division of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, for their hard work on the case.

“The United States Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting the integrity of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the benefits it provides,” Brewer said. “The prison sentence imposed in this case is an appropriate punishment for someone who, for more than a decade, stole taxpayer money intended for our nation’s veterans and their families.”

In addition to his prison sentence, Judge Houston ordered Brink to serve three years on supervised release and to pay $145,035 in restitution to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

DEFENDANT                       Case Number 18-cr-3894-JAH       

Michael Vanden Brink           Oceanside, CA            Age: 57

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

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

Maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment

AGENCIES

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General – Criminal Investigations Division

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
CAS19-0128-Brink
Updated January 28, 2019