Volusia woman pleads guilty to stealing over $88K in VA funds

A 65-year-old Volusia County woman is facing up to a decade in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing over $88,000 in benefit payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

On Thursday, April 4, U.S. Attorney Roger B. Handberg of the Middle District of Florida announced that Tijuanna J. Thomas has pleaded guilty to theft of government property. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars.

As part of her plea, Thomas has agreed to forfeit $88,440, which is the total proceeds of her criminal conduct. In addition, she will be required to make full restitution to the VA and SSA.

According to the plea agreement, a man received both VA and Social Security benefits, which were direct deposited into a checking account that he shared with Thomas. On May 6, 2016, the man died, but Thomas failed to report his death to the VA or SSA.

As a result, the VA and SSA thought that the man was still alive and continued to deposit his benefit payments into the checking account. Thomas took those benefits, which she was not entitled to, and spent them on her own personal expenses.

This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Southeast Field Office and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Del Mastro.

Thomas is scheduled to be sentenced on July 10, 2024.

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