2 suspects arraigned for defrauding Michigan Treasury, Veterans Affairs
Two people have been arraigned on charges for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Michigan Department of Treasury.
The attorney general's office said the two individuals submitting fraudulent documents in support of claims for Veteran's Affairs survivor benefits and Michigan Unclaimed Property.
Melissa R. Flores, 53, of Westland, and a co-conspirator, allegedly created aliases and "obtained or created fraudulent documents, including vital records like birth certificates, to make it appear that they were heirs to various individuals who had died," according to the attorney general's office.
Between 2013 and 2019, it is alleged that the two individuals obtained more than $40,000 of unclaimed property from the Department of Treasury and more than $430,000 from Veterans Affairs.
The attorney general's office said a man, Stephen Decker, 32, of Wyandott, received proceeds from the scheme and used some of the money to conceal property used to conduct the fraud.
“Committing fraud against our state or federal agencies that directly give back to their communities will not be tolerated,” Nessel said. “Our veterans voluntarily put their lives on the line in service to this country to protect the freedoms and liberties we as U.S. citizens enjoy. For someone to take advantage of the public benefits set aside for their families is a slap in the face to servicemen and women across the country.”
Flores is set to appear in court for a probable cause conference at 8:30 a.m. June 4 and was arraigned on the following charges:
• One count of conducting a criminal enterprise, a felony punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment, $100,000 fine and forfeiture of proceeds and items used during the crime
• Two counts of false pretenses between $20,000 and $50,000, a felony punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment, $15,000 fine or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater
• Forgery of documents affecting real property, a 14-year felony
• Four counts of false pretenses between $1,000 and $20,000, a felony punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine or three times the value of the money or property involved, whichever is greater.
The attorney general's office said Flores is subject to be sentenced as a habitual offender.
Decker of Wyandott is charged with one county of criminal enterprises, racketeering proceeds, a felony punishable by up to 20 years' imprisonment, $100,000 fine and forfeiture of proceeds and items used during the crime, the attorney general's office said.
Decker is set to appear in court for a probable cause conference at 1:30 p.m. June 4. A $10,000 cash or 10% surety bond has been set, according to the attorney general's office.
The attorney general's office said a third individual has been charged with "conducting a criminal enterprise and multiple counts of false pretenses."
The attorney general's office said the identity of the individual is being withheld until arraignment.