North Carolina nurse convicted of defrauding dementia veteran of $ 90,000 in benefits
A nurse in Raeford, North Carolina was sentenced on October 15 to more than a year in prison and ordered to pay more than $ 90,000 in restitution after committing wire fraud on the account of a veteran old age for whom she is responsible.
Tracey McNeill, 51, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on July 6. The remaining 25 counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud were dismissed at his sentencing hearing following a plea deal.
According to court documents, McNeill gained access to Veterans Affairs and Office of Personnel Management benefits by fraudulently obtaining a power of attorney over the disabled veteran.
The veteran was only identified by the initials “WR”. However, it was noted in court documents that the veteran had served in the military and worked for the US Postal Service for over 40 years.
From April 2015 to February 2016, McNeill channeled veteran benefits to his personal accounts, according to court documents. This included monthly VA payments ranging from $ 445 to $ 587 and about $ 3,065 per month from OPM.
McNeill’s indictment also accused him of organizing for the veteran – who suffered from dementia – to move in with her in February 2015. She then had WR’s benefits through VA and OPM deposited into her bank account for the next 20 months.
According to McNeill’s indictment, by the time WR passed away on December 7, 2016, she had received over $ 72,469 in stolen benefits. The veteran was 68 years old at the time of his death from complications from dementia.
Court documents also show that after the veteran’s death, McNeill filed beneficiary forms placing himself as sole beneficiary of what was left of the veteran’s retirement benefits and life insurance.
A financial analysis carried out during the prosecution’s investigation showed McNeill spent the stolen funds on rent, utilities, credit card payments and personal purchases.
OPM sent McNeill $ 17,533 in life insurance proceeds after subtracting funeral expenses.
McNeill ultimately defrauded the VA and OPM of $ 90,003, according to the Eastern District of North Carolina Press release.
Assistant US Attorney Ethan Ontjes continued the case, and US District Judge James C. Dever III oversaw McNeill’s conviction. Ontjes was not immediately available for comment.
The offices of the inspector general of the VA and the OPM participated in the investigation.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a Masters candidate at New York University. She is currently an editorial researcher for Military Times.