Former Bookkeeper for Mukilteo flooring company convicted of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy
Tacoma – The former Executive Director of the Washington Coalition of Crime Victim Advocates (WCCVA) was convicted today of two counts of wire fraud following a six-day jury trial. Cody Benson, 51, formerly of Olympia, Washington, was indicted in July 2021 for her scheme to falsely claim Washington State public grant funding for work that was never done. Jurors deliberated about eight hours before returning the guilty verdicts. U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle scheduled sentencing for April 8, 2024, at 1:30 p.m.
According to records filed in the case, Benson was the head of an Olympia-based non-profit organization that was tasked with training advocates to assist crime victims. In 2013, the legislature appropriated money for this work with a grant administered through the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. Between 2015 and 2017, Benson submitted fraudulent invoices for reimbursement under the grant. She submitted bills for training events that were never held or supplies that were never purchased. In early 2016, she moved away to Italy, yet in the ensuing years, she repeatedly told representatives of the Attorney General’s Office that she was in Washington State doing various outreach and other work. Those representations were false.
By the end of the scheme, WCCVA had only two employees: Benson and her son. The Washington State Attorney General’s Office became concerned about WCCVA’s performance under the grant in early 2018 and began investigating. Benson returned just over $50,000 to the state, but other funds were not recovered. The grant payments ceased, and WCCVA is defunct.
In all, prosecutors argued that WCCVA obtained almost $180,000 from Benson’s false invoices, and that Benson herself obtained approximately $257,000 in net salary and other benefits such as health insurance, retirement plan contributions, and health reimbursement account contributions during the fraudulent scheme.
The case was investigated by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Philip Kopczynski and Yunah Chung.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.