North Carolina woman sentenced to prison, $90k restitution for wire fraud involving elderly veteran

Published 9:04 am Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Raeford woman was sentenced October 15 to 12 months and a day imprisonment and ordered to pay $90,003 in restitution for committing wire fraud involving an elderly veteran in her care, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Tracey McNeill, 51, pleaded guilty to the charge on July 6, 2021.

According to court documents, between February 2015 and February 2017, McNeill fraudulently obtained VA and OPM benefits by executing a power of attorney (POA) over a disabled veteran – identified as W.R. – who served in the U.S. Army and worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 41 years.

“The investigation revealed that McNeill arranged for the victim, who had dementia, to move into her home in February 2015, and then directed the VA and OPM to deposit W.R’s benefits into McNeill’s bank account between April, 2015, and December 2016,” stated the release. “W.R. passed away on December 6, 2016.”

According to the release, OPM deposited $61,318 and the VA deposited $11,151 into McNeill’s account.

“A financial analysis showed that most of the funds were spent on McNeill’s personal expenses, including rent, utilities, credit card payments, and personal purchases,” the release continued. “Further, McNeill completed Beneficiary forms listing herself as the beneficiary of the victim’s retirement and life insurance benefits. OPM disbursed W.R.’s life insurance proceeds in the amount of $17,533 to McNeill.”

G. Norman Acker III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge James C. Dever III. The Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Office of Inspector General (OPM-OIG) assisted in this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ethan Ontjes is prosecuting the case.

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