One day before the nation marked Veterans Day 2020, a Georgia man was sentenced to more than two years in prison for exploiting and financially damaging four disabled Minnesota veterans. While the veterans did without, he collected more than $365,000 in government benefits that he diverted as their money manager to buy a home and a luxury car.
Jeffrey F. Horner, 57, of Mableton, Ga., was sentenced in U.S. District Court in St. Paul for 2 1/2 years in prison. It follows him pleading guilty to wire fraud and calls for him to make restitution to his victims and serve a year of supervised release.
In his role as a fiduciary, Horner was responsible for managing the veterans’ benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA), and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Between April 2010 and September 2018, he funneled the benefits from the federal agencies to at least 12 bank accounts in his name and the names of his businesses.
“Horner’s scheme was accomplished through numerous falsified checks and fraudulent forms submitted to government agencies year after year,” the prosecution wrote in a filing before sentencing that argued for him to be imprisoned for a longer term. “And when he wanted to steal larger sums that could not be explained as everyday living expenditures, Horner falsified copies of checks to charities in order to further bolster his lies.”
One of the veterans with bipolar disorder lived in East Bethel. Another lived in Minneapolis and battled Parkinson’s disease and had a schizoaffective disorder. A third also lived in Minneapolis and lived with depression and other afflictions. The fourth was a son of the East Bethel veteran who lived in Iowa and was eligible for SSA benefits.
One of his victims, the prosecution filing noted, said that Horner’s actions ruined his credit rating and forced him “to live on the streets of Minneapolis starting Feb. 19, 2012, when it was 30 below zero actual temperature.” Another victim told of being worried about getting money for food and having “to use the food banks when we didn’t get paid.”
(Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)