Temple: Businessman charged in VA fraud case pleads guilty

Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center. (VA photo/file)
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) A Temple man appeared in federal magistrate's court in Waco Tuesday for felony arraignment on a charge of theft of government property, then pleaded guilty to the charge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske accepted a guilty plea from Jeffrey Pearson, a Temple businessman, and set his sentencing set for January 29, 2019 in U.S. District Judge Alan Albright's court.

Pearson is third of the trio to plead guilty in the scheme that also involved Christopher Sebek, a former Temple Veteran's Administration Medical Center employee, and his wife, Melissa Sebek, all of whom were indicted in a scheme to defraud the government and redirect items purchased with government funds to their personal use, the indictment says.

Manske, on Oct. 23, accepted a guilty plea from Sebek during a felony arraignment hearing last week in his courtroom and ordered a pre-sentencing report prepared before sentencing, which he then set for Jan. 16, 2019.

Melissa Sebek pleaded guilty Oct. 16 and is set for sentencing on Dec. 4, court dockets show.

"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.

Pearson, on October 17, was released from custody after posting a $25,000 appearance bond and Manske allowed him to remain on bond Tuesday awaiting his sentencing hearing.