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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

K-9 Conspirator

Do you know someone on active military duty or a veteran? I’m sure most everyone does. My father, my brother, and my son-in-law were/are veterans. See what you think about this true-crime case where the USA Department of Justice charged a man with defrauding the Veterans Administration.

There are several businesses that train and provide service dogs to those in need on active duty and to veterans. The service dogs help men and women heal from a myriad of traumas resulting from their time in service. The government approves legit businesses to charge an individual’s VA Education Benefits under the G.I. Bill for the necessary K-9 handler training those businesses provide.

Based on a federal grand jury’s consideration, law enforcement charged a particular K-9 business owner with a combined total of sixteen counts.

· Eight counts of Wire Fraud

· Four counts of Aggravated Identity Theft.

· Two counts of Aiding and Abetting in a Money Laundering Scheme.

· Two counts of Making a False Tax Return.

“FBI Special Agent in Charge said, “The FBI is committed to working with our partners to protect important federal programs, like the GI Bill, which serves to improve the lives of men and women who sacrifice so much to serve our nation.”

At the conclusion of a bench trial, the federal judge found him guilty on all counts. The business owner solicited veterans and told them they could use their GI Bill Benefits to pay for the dog handler course his business provided. The business provided a dog and some training with a cost up to $12,000 billed to the Veterans Administration Education Program, but also submitted fraudulent claims with instructors’ names, certifications, training documentation through the same program amounting to over $1.5 million. While defrauding veterans, the business owner also falsified his reported income to the IRS.

The judge sentenced the man to over nine years in federal prison. His sentence included paying $1.5 million in restitution, and three years of supervised release after serving his sentence. His business property, bank accounts, a motor home, trucks, jet skis and trailer were all seized. Animal Care Services took custody of 26 dogs.

Worth Mentioning: The business owner submitted a request for a new trial based on undisclosed evidence. The court denied the request.

Source: USA Department of Justice, USA District Court

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