Judge Orders Restitution for Welfare Fraud and Threatens Maximum Sentence if Probation is Violated
PORTLAND, Ore. – On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, a former employee of the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and the Oregon Department of Justice was sentenced to probation for the theft of more than $56,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Bruce A. Endicott, 34, pled guilty in June 2016 to one count of theft of government funds. Endicott’s guilty plea, pursuant to a plea agreement, included an admission of conduct over a three-year period supporting all six counts of his indictment. U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Jones sentenced Endicott to three years of probation, 250 hours of community service, and payment of full restitution.
According to court records, Endicott began receiving service-connected disability benefits from the VA in 2005, following three years of Navy service in San Diego, Calif. In June 2012, Endicott filed an additional VA claim for Individual Unemployability benefits, claiming he unable to seek employment due to service-connected mental and physical impairments. Endicott submitted an unemployment statement to the VA in February 2013 while employed by the Oregon Department of Justice under a second Social Security number and was awarded additional benefits. He was instructed to notify the VA of any changes in employment status.
Endicott left the Oregon Department of Justice in December 2013, and began working for the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office, failing once again to notify the VA of his employment. After leaving the District Attorney’s Office in May 2014, he applied for welfare benefits through the Oregon Department of Human Services (Oregon DHS) using his second Social Security number and again claiming unemployment. Endicott failed to disclose to Oregon DHS that he was receiving approximately $2,700 per month in VA benefits. Oregon DHS awarded him Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) benefits.
In February 2015, Endicott submitted a statement to the VA regarding his Individual Unemployability claim, failing, yet again, to disclose his former employment with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office and falsely asserting that he had not worked in the past year. Between June 2012 and October 2015, Endicott received approximately $47,947 in VA benefits, $5,996 in SNAP benefits, and $2,770 in TANF benefits to which he was not entitled.
During Edicott’s sentencing hearing, the government noted his ongoing and repeated fraud, the purchase of a $65,000 truck while failing to pay child support and restitution, the burden of his repeated false claims on the VA and Oregon DHS systems, and the detrimental effect of his actions on those with legitimate claims on the benefits he illegally sought. Judge Jones warned Endicott that despite receiving probation, further wrongdoing would result in a much harsher sentence. As a condition of his probation, Endicott was ordered to participate in a mental health treatment program.
The case was investigated by the Criminal Investigations Division of the VA Office of Inspector General, Oregon DHS, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations and prosecuted by Helen Cooper, Special Assistant United States Attorney, as part of a partnership between the SSA Office of the General Counsel, Seattle Region and the United States Attorney’s Office in Portland, Oregon.