Responsibilities

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Being a fiduciary is a huge responsibility. It is a commitment to act in the best interest of someone or an entity that has been placed in their care. A New Kensington, Pa., man who was the fiduciary for his service-disabled brother misappropriated money from a Veterans Affairs (VA) beneficiary program. Andrew Ziacik, 57, not only violated the terms of his Fiduciary agreement, but he also took advantage of his brother who was reliant upon him for care after their mother died in 2013.

During a plea hearing, Andrew admitted that he was the appointed Federal Fiduciary for his brother, Paul, between 2013 and 2017. During that time, he was responsible for receiving Paul’s VA income and making sure his debts were paid. But instead of paying for Paul’s debts, Andrew racked up a few of his own. (He bought a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a diamond ring, and a GMC Sierra truck.)

Andrew also made more than 100 unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals totaling $25,647.25 from Paul’s bank account. (Then there were the 41 times that Andrew transferred a total of $139,950 to his own personal accounts. I suppose he thought the VA was too busy to notice.)

Andrew not only spent his brother’s VA benefits on frivolous purchases, he neglected to maintain accurate records and receipts. (Of course he didn’t. He didn’t want anyone to know what he was up to.) And then, Andrew failed to provide records in response to a formal accounting inquiry from the Department of Veterans Affairs in August 2016. (That was probably the beginning of the end for this deceitful brother.)

More than four years later, Andrew entered a plea of “not guilty” in November 2020. By June 2021, he changed his plea to “guilty.” (Apparently, the evidence was overwhelming.)

 Andrew expressed how sorry he was for mishandling his brother’s VA benefits. (I wonder how Paul felt about all of this?) The judge went easy on Andrew and sentenced him to one day in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $4,000 fine. He must also pay his brother $75,000 in restitution. (The most important thing in this case was to make sure that Paul is taken care of. Perhaps that was the reasoning behind the judge’s lenient sentencing.)

Today’s Fraud of the Day comes from an article, “Man misused over $100k of brother’s VA benefits, bought Harley, diamond ring and pickup,” published by Army Times dated November 5, 2021.

The brother of a service-disabled Navy veteran was sentenced in federal court Nov. 1 for the misappropriation of his brother’s Veterans Affairs benefits, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

United States District J. Nicholas Ranjan sentenced Andrew Ziacik, 57, to one day imprisonment and ordered him to pay a $4,000 fine and $75,000 in restitution to his brother, Paul Ziacik, after pleading guilty.

 

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Larry Benson, Senior Director of Strategic Alliances, LexisNexis Risk Solutions - Government

Larry Benson is responsible for developing strategic partnerships and solutions for the government vertical. His expertise focuses on how government programs are defrauded by criminal groups, and the approaches necessary to prevent them from succeeding.

Mr. Benson has 30 years of experience in sales and business development. Before joining LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, he spent 12 years founding and managing two software technology startups. During the 1990s he spent 10 years as a Regional Director helping to grow a New England-based technology company from 300 employees to 7,000. He started his career with Martin Marietta Aerospace working on laser guided weapons and day/night vision systems.

A sought-after speaker and accomplished writer, Mr. Benson is the principal author of “Fraud of the Day,” a website dedicated to educating government officials about how criminals are defrauding government programs. He has co-authored WTF? Where’s the Fraud? How to Unmask and Stop Identity Fraud’s Drain on Our Government, and Data Personified, How Fraud is Changing the Meaning of Identity.

Benson holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Albright College, and earned two graduate degrees – a Master of Business Administration from Florida Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Engineering from Lehigh University.