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Choctaw County man sentenced to prison, ordered to pay $1.5 million in fraud case

Published: Apr. 6, 2022 at 3:29 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Choctaw County man to more than five years in prison for taking advantage of an oversight to defraud the government out of almost $1.5 million.

Brandon Leross Bailey pleaded guilty in June to theft of government property and bankruptcy fraud. He admitted to falsely claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient and engaging in a multi-layered scheme.

Senior U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade sentenced Bailey to five years and three months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $1.45 million in restitution.

Bailey was a major in the U.S. Air Force in 2010 when authorities charged him with illegal drug possession and theft. After a court martial, the Air Force dismissed him with the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, according to court records.

But the Defense Finance and Accounting Service never received notice of Bailey’s dismissal, and he admitted to using that administrative error to collect paychecks and receive health care and military facilities from 2010 to 2017. That amounted to a $818,918 loss to the Air Force.

At various times, the defendant portrayed himself as a retired Air Force nurse, a combat rescue officer, a veteran of combat in Afghanistan and a Purple Heart recipient, according to court records.

Bailey also admitted that he applied for disability benefits, claiming that several medical conditions made him unable to work. He fraudulently stated that he had been “medically disqualified for military service,” according to court records.

The defendant received $155,396 in disability benefits that he was not entitled to, and prosecutors alleged that he worked as a “veteran’s consultant” and part-time faculty member at an Alabama private university but failed to disclose that work to the Social Security Administration.

Bailey also admitted that he defrauded that U.S. Department of Agriculture by obtaining almost $15,000 in benefits from a conservation program known as “Beginning Farmer or Rancher.” He was not permitted to participate in that program and collect disability payments, according to the indictment.

Bailey also lied about his dishonorable discharge on an application for funds under a “Veteran Farmer or Rancher Program,” according to the plea document.

Lying about his military status also allowed Bailey to obtain bank loans, credit cards and other benefits he was not entitled to, the plea agreement states.

The bankruptcy fraud conviction concerned a February 2019 filing. Prosecutors alleged that Bailey concealed $30,750 in rental income for real estate in Butler and about $33,817 in consulting and teaching income from a private university. In addition, the indictment charged him with concealing from the bankruptcy administrator two pieces of property valued at $139,760 and insurance proceeds of $89,250 that he received after a July 2019 house fire in Butler.