Birdie Anderson, 54, of Nashville, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to charges that she made false statements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to obtain an $80,000 federal grant and that she had converted more than $280,000 in additional VA grant funds, for her own personal use, announced U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin.
Anderson admitted that during 2007 and 2008 she made false representations when applying for a federal grant that provided money for a mortgage and for the purchase of real property that would be used to house indigent veterans. She admitted that she pocketed approximately $25,000 of the $80,600 in cash that the VA gave her to buy the property. Anderson subsequently failed to make the mortgage payments, which resulted in foreclosure and loss of the property as a source of veteran housing.
Anderson further admitted to receiving an additional $280,000 in VA grant funds between 2008 and 2013, by representing that she would use the money to purchase a specialty van to provide transportation for indigent veterans, and an apartment building for additional veteran housing. However, she never purchased either. The funds were electronically deposited into Anderson’s bank account, but are no longer there.
“This egregious fraud inflicted a significant double injury to tax payers in general, and to veterans specifically,” said Martin. “Fraud and abuse of any federal program is harmful, particularly given the current funding crisis that the United States faces. Program fraud is even more damaging when the programs affected are designed to help our needy veterans. The taxpayers’ money that Anderson fraudulently obtained in this case is gone, so it will provide no benefit to the veterans it was intended for. We will ask the court to impose a sentence that accurately reflects the harm that this defendant inflicted.”
During the investigation, Anderson claimed that she still had the money, which was in a safe in New Hampshire. Despite that claim, Anderson has refused demands from the VA to return the money and has since formally withdrawn from participation in the grant programs for which the funds were provided.
The charges carry a combined maximum of 15 years in prison, fines of up to $500,000, and forfeiture of any money or substitute property that Anderson possesses, up to the amount or value of the VA funds that she misappropriated.
United States District Judge Todd Cambpell has set sentencing for June 17, 2013.