By Attorney General Dana Nessel
LANSING – A co-conspirator in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Michigan Department of Treasury will spend two years in prison, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.
The Attorney General’s enforcement operation was conducted in close collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General.
Wayne County Circuit Court Visiting Judge Cynthia Stevens sentenced Melissa Flores on Friday to 24 months’ imprisonment and ordered her to pay $110,000 restitution.
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
“My office will not stand for attempts to take advantage of the agencies that offer benefits to the public, especially to our brave service members and their families,” said Nessel. “I’m proud of the work done across our partner agencies to secure this sentence against Ms. Flores.”
Flores pleaded guilty last May to the following:
- two counts of false pretenses between $20,000 and $50,000;
- one count of forgery of documents affecting real property; and
- four counts of false pretenses between $1,000 and $20,000.
Flores and her co-defendant, Sophia Quill, allegedly created aliases and obtained or created fraudulent documents to make it appear that they were heirs to various individuals who died.
Between 2013 and 2019, it is alleged that Quill and Flores defrauded the VA out of more than $430,000 and the Michigan Department of Treasury out of more than $40,000 in unclaimed property.
Quill’s son Steven Decker was also charged in the scheme. His trial is set for December 2022.
“Fraudulently obtaining benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs is reprehensible and takes taxpayer dollars away from providing for deserving veterans,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory Billingsley with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office.
Quill’s case was bound over for trial last year. However, on April 29, Judge Catherine Heise issued a bench warrant for Quill’s arrest after Quill failed to show at a pre-trial hearing.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation, and defendants Decker and Quill are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.