Las Cruces Woman Pleads Guilty to Stealing $147k from VA

Las Cruces, NM (KTSM) - A Las Cruces woman plead guilty to depositing 27 "surviving-spouse" benefit checks addressed to her mother from the Department of Veterans Affairs after her mother's death in 1997 in federal court Wednesday.

Donah E. Davison, 54, plead guilty to theft of government property and forgery in a 36-count indictment. As part of the plea agreement, Davison admitted that her mother began receiving VA surviving-spouse benefits from the VA in 1970 but Davison failed to notify that VA of her mother's death in 1997 and instead started depositing the checks into her own bank account after signing her mom's signature on the back of the checks.

Davison admitted that since 2003 when the VA began keeping records, she had collected $147,557.69. According to court records, the VA did not maintain records before 2003.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Davison will be sentenced to four months in prison followed by four months of home confinement. She has also been ordered to pay $147,557.69 in restitution to the VA. A formal sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Albuquerque office of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Balla of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.

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