Seven indicted for stealing more than $100,000 from the U.S. Army by claiming reimbursement for military funeral honors ceremonies that never occurred
Published 6:30 am Saturday, January 30, 2021
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced on Friday a seven-count indictment charging New Orleans Police Detective Chantelle Davis, New Orleans Police Officer Lynea Sanders, and five other former United States Army reservists with stealing more than $100,000 from the United States Department of the Army by claiming reimbursement for the performance of military funeral honors ceremonies that never happened.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 authorizes military funeral honors for active duty soldiers, retirees, and veterans. At a family’s request, eligible persons can receive military funeral honors, including the folding and presenting of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.”
According to today’s indictment, Christopher O’Connor, a former Army pay technician, submitted fraudulent reimbursement requests for military funeral honors that O’Connor, Chantelle Davis, Lynea Sanders, Leroy Daniels, Jr., Derrick Branch, Cody Francis, And Terrance Howard allegedly performed but had not.
According to the indictment, O’Connor, age 40, stole approximately $18,825.83 in Department of the Army funds, Branch, age 36, stole approximately $15,469.30, Daniels, age 45, stole approximately $11,693.87, Davis, age 35, stole approximately $8,399.65, Francis, age 31, stole approximately $11,378.27, Howard, age 54, stole approximately $13,585.92, and Sanders, age 41, stole approximately $22,505.35. All the defendants are former Army reservists in the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, New Orleans. Each is a resident of New Orleans other than Daniels who lives in Westwego, LA.
If convicted of conspiring to commit theft of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, and theft of government funds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of ten (10) years imprisonment, followed by up to three (3) years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000.00, and a mandatory $100 special assessment. The United States is seeking full restitution of all the stolen money, approximately $101,858.19.
U.S. Attorney Strasser reiterated that an Indictment is merely a charge and that the guilt of the defendants must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, including Special Agents John Hiniker, Jeffrey Riedeman, and Denny Richter. Assistant United States Attorney David Howard Sinkman is in charge of the prosecution.