Local man accused of stealing from VA

Published 12:02am Saturday, August 3, 2013

An Andalusia man is awaiting trial after pleading not guilty this week in a two-count federal indictment that alleges he not only stole more than $75,000 in VA pension benefits, but that he also lied about his cash assets, specifically at least $100,000 in cashier’s checks.

Tony Joseph, public affais officer of the Tallahassee, Fla., U.S. Attorney prosecutorial office, said John “Randy” Franklin was arrested July 25 in Pensacola, Fla., by a special agent with the Office of the Inspector General with the U.S. Veterans Affairs.

Joseph said the indictment states that between Nov. 17, 2008, and May 31, 2013, Franklin stole $75,246 in veterans’ administration benefits by filing “false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements and representations…that he was surviving off of his VA pension payments and had no other money, whereas, in truth and in fact, and as (he) well knew, (he) possessed at least four separate cashier checks in the amounts of $25,000 each.”

Because of the alleged illegal activity, Franklin is subject the forfeiture of any property, real or personal, that can be traced as being purchased with those VA funds.

Joseph couldn’t elaborate much on the case, as information wasn’t readily available; however, he said, “In the indictment it says that Mr. Franklin somehow stole money by filing false papers with the VA, and he is charged with making false statements that he was basically surviving on his VA pension payment when he had no other money, when in fact, he possessed no less than four $25,000 cashier’s checks. That’s $100,000.”

It is unclear how Franklin earned a VA pension; however, he entered his “not guilty” plea on July 25 and was given a Sept. 9 trial date. Jury selections will begin at 9 a.m.

Joseph said if convicted, Franklin could face up to a maximum of 10 years in federal prison, followed by three years supervised probation; a $250,000 cash fine, and a $100 fee to the special monetary assessment fund and restitution.

Attempts to reach Franklin’s attorney, James D. Sears of Daphne, were unsuccessful Friday.

 

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