- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2020

A Michigan woman faces up to 20 years in prison for devising and executing a plan that defrauded the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of $1.75 million.

Claudia Ann Merrill, 61, issued her guilty plea Jan. 31 and is expected to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan on May 15.

A statement by the United States Attorney’s Office District of Nevada said that Merrill submitted false applications in the names of veterans, as well as the surviving spouses of veterans to exploit VA health care programs known as Veterans Pension and VA Aid and Attendance.

“Merrill altered medical records to ensure that the veteran or surviving spouse’s physical or mental condition rendered them eligible for the benefits,” the office added. “She then fraudulently directed benefit payments into bank accounts she controlled, and concealed the benefits from the veterans and surviving spouses.”

Merrill will also pay $1,755,412 in restitution as part of her plea deal, a Fox affiliate in Texas reported Feb. 7. 

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General and the FBI’s Las Vegas Field Office all coordinated in bringing the successful case — prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Patrick Burns — to fruition.

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