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Description: Little Rock, Arkansas criminal law lawyer represented Defendant charged with misusing disability payments in violation of 38 U.S.C. 6101, which provides:
(a) Whoever, being a fiduciary (as defined in section 5506 of this title) for the benefit of a minor, incompetent, or other beneficiary under laws administered by the Secretary, shall lend, borrow, pledge, hypothecate, use, or exchange for other funds or property, except as authorized by law, or embezzle or in any manner misappropriate any such money or property derived therefrom in whole or in part and coming into such fiduciary's control in any manner whatever in the execution of such fiduciary's trust, or under color of such fiduciary's office or service as such fiduciary, shall be fined in accordance with title 18, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
(b) Any willful neglect or refusal to make and file proper accountings or reports concerning such money or property as required by law shall be taken to be sufficient evidence prima facie of such embezzlement or misappropriation.
Brandi Goldman, 49 was accused of misusing more than $143,000 in disability payments intended for her injured veteran husband.
In 2013, Goldman was married to a United States Army Reservist who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in a service-connected accident. As a result of this injury, her husband had many serious physical challenges, and Goldman was appointed as his guardian. Her husband began receiving disability payments, and Goldman signed a fiduciary agreement with Veterans Affairs (VA) detailing the terms of her management of his finances.
In part, the agreement stated that funds were to be used for the beneficiary and that Goldman was not permitted to borrow, loan, or gift money belonging to the beneficiary. When Goldman officially took over her husband’s accounts in April 2015, through November 2017 after her activity was reported to authorities, she received $258,613.54 in VA disability payments and $36,000 in Social Security payments. During that timeframe, she withdrew $199,649.30 in cash and accrued about $900 in ATM and overdraft fees.
Goldman admitted to spending much of the cash to fund her methamphetamine habit, spending $150 on methamphetamine two to three times per week. She also admitted that five other people moved into the residence with her and her husband, none of whom paid rent or contributed to expenses, some of whom she regularly gave cash. Goldman also admitted paying $68,000 in cash for another home, furnishings for the home, a vehicle, and a motor home. She told investigators she purchased vehicles for several people and gave money to her daughters as well as her husband’s parents.
“To steal from a veteran who is incapacitated is an egregious crime. However, that this crime was committed by a fiduciary is particularly pathetic,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Breen of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s South Central Field Office. “Today’s sentence should send a clear message that the VA OIG will vigorously investigate those who would exploit our nation’s most vulnerable veterans.”
A grand jury indicted Goldman in July 2020 with one count of misappropriation by a fiduciary and one count of theft of government funds. In June 2022, she pleaded guilty to misappropriation by a fiduciary in exchange for the other count being dismissed. In addition to prison, Judge Moody sentenced Golden to 3 years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $143,000 in restitution.
The case was investigated by the Veterans Affairs – Office of the Inspector General and the Social Security Administration – Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Liza Brown prosecuted the case for the United States.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to 20 months in prison, followed by three years of supervise release, ordered to pay $143,000 in restitution, and was assessed $100.00.