By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Stephen Decker of Wyandotte was arraigned on charges recently for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the Michigan Department of the Treasury of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Decker, 32, and Melissa R. Flores, 53, of Westland, were charged with stealing more than $470,000 in public benefits by submitting fraudulent documents in support of claims for VA survivor benefits and Michigan Unclaimed Property, Michigan Attorney General announced June 1, and said a third person soon will be arraigned.
The scheme ran from 2013 to 2019, netting $40,000 in unclaimed property from the Michigan Department of the Treasury and $430,000 from the VA.
Decker allegedly received proceeds from the scheme and used some of the money to conceal property used to conduct the fraud.
He was charged with one count of criminal enterprises – racketing proceeds, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and forfeiture of the proceeds and items used to commit the crime, before Judge Elizabeth DiSanto in 27th District Court in Wyandotte. A June 4 probable cause hearing was scheduled as well.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said committing fraud against state and federal agencies that directly give back to communities will not be tolerated.
“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,” she said. “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.”