Man convicted of cheating VA

From Staff Reports

A College Park man has been sentenced on charges of defrauding the Veterans Administration.

Robert Stewart, 33, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr., on charges related to conspiracy, bank fraud, identity theft and making false claims to the Department of Veteran's Affairs, according to U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias and the documents and information presented in court.

Stewart was sentenced to 15 years, 10 months in prison, and was given 5 years supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of approximately $1.1 million. Stewart was convicted after he pleaded guilty to the conspiracy, bank fraud and identity theft charges on July 9, 2004. He was convicted of the charges related to false claims to the VA on Aug. 4, 2004.

Stewart was charged in two indictments. In the first 64-count indictment, Stewart and nine others were charged with conspiracy, bank fraud and identity theft. From 2001 until his arrest in January 2004, Stewart and others in the Atlanta area carried out a scheme to defraud several banks by producing and cashing counterfeit checks.

The scheme included the production of false IDs, the theft of identities and the theft of bank account information through bank employees. Stewart also stole the identities of persons he came into contact with through his employment at various companies in the Atlanta area including a company screening TSA job applicants.

Stewart and his co-conspirator, Derrick Grayson, who was sentenced on Oct. 4, 2004, to 10 years 10 months in federal prison, also acquired a false business account at ChoicePoint which they used to evaluate the vulnerability of the stolen identities.

The second indictment charges Stewart with defrauding the Department of Veteran's Affairs. While in the Air Force in 1997, Stewart was found guilty of several identity fraud and credit fraud charges, and he received a bad conduct discharge. Stewart is charged with altering his Air Force discharge papers to reflect an honorable discharge and applying for both VA educational benefits and a VA guaranteed home loan.