TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) A Temple businesswoman was sentenced in Waco’s federal magistrate’s court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to participating with her husband and another man in a scheme to defraud the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of about $250,000, prosecutors say.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske ordered Melissa Sebek, 55, to serve five years on federal probation, perform 240 hours of community service and pay restitution of about $50,000, her attorney, Chris K. Gober, of San Antonio, said Wednesday by telephone.
Sebek, on Oct. 16, 2018, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft of government property after she, her husband Christopher Sebek, 55, also of Temple, along with Killeen business owner Jeffrey Pearson were charged for their roles in a scheme to defraud the VA.
Court records show that Christopher Sebek and Pearson entered into an agreement in February 2012 to steal money from the Temple VA, allegedly by submitting fraudulent invoices for payment for goods and services.
Christopher Sebek, then an operations supervisor in the Engineering Department of the Temple VA, and Pearson, the owner of Whitetail Industries, which contracted to provide goods and services to the Temple VA, both were charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of theft of government property.
Federal court records show Pearson and Christopher Sebek both pleaded guilty in federal magistrate’s court on Oct. 30, 2018 and both are set for sentencing March 13 in Manske’s court.
Melissa Sebek's accounting business was manager of the arrangement between Christopher Sebek and Pearson and federal investigators say she participated in the fraud scheme.
“Court records also allege that (Christopher) Sebek stole two VAMC (Veteran’s Administration Medical Center) credit cards and used them to pay for personal expenses,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a press release last October.
Melissa Sebek, who owns MS Bookkeeping Services, in Temple, was charged with one count of theft of government property after investigators learned she kept business records for the scheme.
"It was a part of the conspiracy that (Christopher) 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.
"(Christopher) 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.