Former local VA employee pleads guilty to theft of government property

Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center. (VA photo/file)
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) A former Temple U.S. Veteran’s Administration employee pleaded guilty to theft of U.S. Government property Tuesday in a Waco courtroom.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske accepted the guilty plea during a felony arraignment hearing in his courtroom Tuesday and ordered a pre-sentencing report prepared before sentencing, which he then set for Jan.16, 2019.

Christopher Sebek, 55, of Temple, Jeffrey Pearson, a Temple businessman, and Sebek’s wife, Melissa Sebek, all were indicted in a scheme to defraud the government and redirect items purchased with government funds to their personal use, the indictment says.

“It was a part of the conspiracy that Sebek used his position as Operations Supervisor for the Department of Engineering for VAMC-Temple to divert United States Government property and money so that he could use the property and money for his own personal gain, including the payment of personal bills, loans, college tuition and personal credit card bills,” the federal complaint filed in the case says.

“Sebek used Pearson’s company, Whitetail Industrial, to procure personal items, such as furniture … Pearson would submit false and fraudulent invoices to the VAMC-Temple for non-existent goods or services, adding (a) 30 percent commission” and “the fraudulent invoices were paid by VAMC-Temple to Whitetail Industrial,” the complaint says.

Melissa Sebek’s accounting business was manager of the arrangement between Sebek and Pearson and federal investigators say she participated in the fraud scheme.

Federal court records show she pleaded guilty Oct.16 to her part in the plan and is awaiting sentencing, which is set for Dec. 4 and her case has been sent to probation investigators for their recommendation at final sentencing.

Pearson, on Oct. 17, was released from custody after posting a $25,000 appearance bond and U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske set him for arraignment and plea on October 30, the magistrate’s court docket shows.