EAST ST. LOUIS — A former U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employee was indicted by a federal grand jury for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
In a press release Friday, U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said the indictment states Terrence Starks, 37, of Bunker Hill, accessed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs computerized software system for the payment and distribution of benefits while he was a VA employee. The database contained names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and bank account information. The indictment alleges that Starks fraudulently changed the routing number and account number of a veteran recipient’s benefits to an account controlled by Starks through his girlfriend, thereby misrepresenting to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that the veteran or survivor still was receiving the benefits.
Starks faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and up to three years supervised release on the wire fraud count and a mandatory consecutive two-year prison sentence for the aggravated identity theft count.
An indictment is a formal charge against a defendant. A defendant is presumed innocent of that charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith.