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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 30, 2016

U.S. Attorney's Office Files Federal Charges Against 16 Individuals For Fraudulent Receipt Of Travel Reimbursement Benefits From U.S. Department Of Veterans Affairs

One Defendant Was Allegedly Reimbursed over $18,000 in Fraudulent Travel Vouchers

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that in the month of June the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville has filed federal charges against 16 individuals that defrauded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) by submitting fraudulent travel vouchers for reimbursement. 

Kim Lampkins, Special Agent in Charge of the Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Washington, D.C., of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), joins U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.

According to allegations contained in filed court documents, the Charles George Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), located in Asheville, is operated by the VA and provides services for veterans of the United States military.  Under certain circumstances, veterans with service-connected disabilities are reimbursed for travel expenses on mileage they incur when traveling to and from their residence and the VAMC.  In order to claim mileage reimbursement, eligible veterans must go to the Travel Benefits Office at the VAMC and provide information about the distance traveled.  The veterans then obtain a voucher which they submit to the Agent Cashier to receive reimbursement for their travel.

The charging documents allege that the defendants submitted fraudulent travel vouchers that overstated the distance they traveled for medical appointments or to receive medical treatment.  The VA reimbursed the defendants for their travel expenses based on mileage information on the fraudulent vouchers.  A total of 16 individuals have been charged separately in connection with travel voucher fraud.

A federal grand jury returned federal indictments on June 7, 2016, against three individuals, charging each defendant separately with one count of making a false claim for travel benefits from the VA, for allegedly submitting multiple fraudulent travel vouchers over a period of months or years.  The charge levies a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  The three indicted are:

  • Arlan M. Land, 53, of Nolanville, TX, was indicted for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $18,839.10 in fraudulent claims.(Docket no. 1:16-cr-72)

  • David B. Wright, 56, of Asheville, is facing federal charges for allegedly obtaining approximately $15,391.52 from the VA. (Docket no. 1:16-cr-73)

  • Pamela L. Smith, 55, of Asheville, has been indicted for allegedly defrauding the VA of approximately $5,318.96. (Docket no. 1:16-cr-71)

Criminal bills of information have also been filed against 13 defendants.  They are each charged with one count of stealing money from the VA, a charge that levies a potential maximum prison term of one year and a $100,000 fine.  The loss amount associated with each case is less than $5,000.  Those charged are:

  • Harris Hamilton, 60, of Chesnee, S.C., is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $2,662 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-72)

  • Marcus McEachin, 45, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $4,029 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-73)

  • Michael Tate, 55, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $2,919 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-74)

  • Christopher Miller, 52, of Spartanburg, S.C., is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $3,411 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-75)

  • Tommie Borders, 62, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $1,426 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-76)

  • Ruben Dixon, 59, of Lenoir, N.C., is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $1,234 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-77)

  • Jeffrey Franklin, 58, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $3,486 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-78)

  • Violet McKinney, 53, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $4,737 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-79)

  • Guy Stivender, 57, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $1,534 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-80)

  • TC Littlejohn, 56, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $1,514 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-83)

  • Kevin Simms of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $ 4,348 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-84)

  • Marshall Dukes, 61, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $3,780 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-85)

  • Kenneth Pickens, 47, of Asheville, is charged for allegedly obtaining from the VA approximately $2,480 in fraudulent claims.  (Docket no. 1:16-mj-86)

“The travel reimbursement program exists to ease the financial burden on military veterans seeking medical treatment and access to good medical care.  The system relies upon veterans to submit honest and accurate forms, reflecting actual travel expenses. Unfortunately, these 16 individuals allegedly decided to lie and make some extra cash by padding their travel vouchers.  We simply cannot allow this type of fraud, waste and abuse to go on and we will prosecute anyone who steals money from a program put in place to provide much-needed assistance to our country’s veterans,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.

The charges contained in the charging documents are allegations.  The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the VA-OIG and the Veterans Affairs Police Department for their investigation of the cases.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated June 30, 2016