An Oceanside man has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $145,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs by continuing to receive compensation meant for a military widow for nearly 10 years after her death, federal prosecutors said.
Michael Vanden Brink, 57, waived an indictment, was arraigned and pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of public property Wednesday in U.S. District Court, according to court documents and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
Prosecutors said Brink shared a bank account with the widow of a military veteran who began to receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits from the VA in 1972. When the woman died in June 2004, the benefits should have stopped.
Instead, Brink continued to receive and use the payments, which were deposited directly into the shared bank account, between July 2004 and February 2014, according to Assistant U.S. Atty. Matthew Brehm and Special Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeffrey Hill.
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