“THESE ARE FEDERAL CRIMES”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 7, 2017) — The power of attorney for a disabled U.S. Army soldier released from a Veterans Administration hospital on January 4 discovered two days later that more than $50,000 has been stolen from the soldier’s account at Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU).
Approximately three weeks ago, the power of attorney was told by a Navy Federal employee at the organization’s home office in Virginia that tampering with the account had been detected and that she was under suspicion as a perpetrator.
In recorded phone calls, the POA informed Navy Federal that she has never moved money from the soldier’s account and had nothing to do with any breaches that might have occurred.
On Friday, she discovered just how serious those breaches were after she visited a Navy Federal branch in person. After showing both the soldier’s and her birth certificates as well as other government identification, she was handed a printout of account activity by a bank supervisor who she described as having been taken completely unaware by its contents.
In a lengthy interview with The Post & Email on Friday evening, the POA related that the account was confirmed “locked” by the teller she initially spoke with, the supervisor, and Navy Federal security. Despite presenting copious documentation, the POA was originally told that she would not be able to access the remaining funds in the soldier’s account.
The printout shows that just after the soldier was forced into Walter Reed on September 29 for an undisclosed reason by his command, his account was pillaged in increasingly greater amounts, with some reaching the IRS reporting threshold of $10,000. Notably, the fraudulent transactions bore no transaction numbers, but rather, “default” numbers such as “999999999.”
While the soldier was held at Walter Reed, he had no access to his cell phone or computer and would therefore not have known that someone was hacking into his account and stealing considerable amounts of money.
When admitted to the hospital, the soldier’s wallet was reportedly put in safekeeping, but the POA reported Friday that when it was returned to him, his debit cards were missing.
The POA recounted that while the soldier was at Walter Reed, she was contacted by a Sherry Davis of the Montgomery County, MD Office of Adult Protective Services and informed that the soldier was exploring the prospect of a court-appointed guardian in light of his dissatisfaction with his current POA’s managing of his financial affairs. As the POA had never taken any money from his account, she found the proffered explanation of the social worker’s involvement highly questionable.
Inquiries directed to Davis and Walter Reed social worker Debra Isenstein, who appears to have contacted Davis, from this publication went unanswered.
In a recorded phone call in mid-December, Col. Christopher Boyle, who was placed in charge of the soldier’s eventual separation from the Army, outlined a discharge plan for January 3, 2017, then yielded the call to a social worker who stated that the Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) had determined that the soldier needed a “fiduciary” to handle his financial matters. At the time, the POA objected to that determination, with the social worker offering very little in response.
On October 3, the POA canceled the soldier’s Navy Federal debit card out of an abundance of caution after Walter Reed security would not confirm that the hospital held the soldier’s wallet. She did not request a replacement card. However, in yet another new revelation, on Saturday afternoon, the POA told The Post & Email that the “soldier confirmed that on or about Nov. 17th, SGT Anthony Hill escorted him to 1 of the 2 Navy Federals located in Walter Reed hospital to retrieve a new debit card.”
The POA reported that in October, as the soldier remained hospitalized, his military identification card expired, and, without government-issued ID, it was virtually impossible for him to regain access to his Navy Federal account upon his discharge on January 4. As POA, she therefore took the responsibility to discover why his account had been “locked” and no one from Navy Federal would divulge the reason over the phone.
When the Navy Federal manager first informed her that she could not withdraw any of the soldier’s remaining funds, she demanded that the manager call the branch’s security department. At the same time, she called the local police, who dispatched an officer to the bank. The officer reportedly said that he understood the problem, having been a victim himself of bank-account hacking, but advised her to report the fraudulent transactions to the police in her local jurisdiction as well as to the FBI. “Your local police can ask that an FBI agent be present when you talk to them,” the POA quoted the police officer as having told her.
Once the officer arrived, the POA was told by the supervisor that she could withdraw money from the soldier’s account, and she left the branch with the amount she requested in the form of a certified bank check.
Last summer, the POA reported that her email account and electronic address book were breached and that a relative assisting her in the soldier’s case subsequently had 15 iPhones, computers and other devices rendered disabled by someone with remote access. She herself reported stalkers outside of her home, harassing phone calls from no-number callers, and other potential crimes perpetrated against her.
The Post & Email has interviewed both the relative whose numerous devices were rendered inoperable as well as the family’s spiritual adviser, who also reported harassment. All have reported the activity to law enforcement.
On April 29, 2013, the soldier was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury after an alleged sexual and physical assault, after which he was thrown into moving traffic, hitting his head on the windshield of a vehicle. The Army has never investigated the perpetrators, which the spiritual adviser, also an Army veteran, said is highly irregular. Similarly, the Petersburg Bureau of Police, which reportedly had jurisdiction over the incident, has never interviewed the soldier about what happened that day despite a promise from Boyle that that would take place last summer.
The soldier’s family believes that the many crimes committed against them are a result of the soldier’s having approached his command about extreme misconduct on the part of at least one officer and other Army personnel when he was stationed in South Korea in 2012. The misconduct involved the soldier’s wife and other Army personnel and resulted in the soldier’s divorce and return to the United States, where the Army labeled him “delusional” and moved to medically discharge him.
For unexplained reasons, the “med board” process was started and stopped several times.
Of the breaching of the soldier’s account, the POA told The Post & Email, “I don’t know how they thought they would ever get away with this. These are federal crimes, and the FBI is going to have to investigate.”
In a now-related incident occurring just after the soldier’s assault nearly four years ago, his laptop was stolen and $13,000 in loans taken out with a fraudulent signature. Strangely, after the POA requested an investigation, Navy Federal issued a letter stating that it “denied” her “Declaration of Forgery/Fraud.” An appeal of that decision yielded no result.
Navy Federal did not respond to this writer’s letter of inquiry as to why it did not investigate the reported fraudulent transactions completed in the soldier’s name in 2013. On Friday, the POA was told by the bank supervisor that she “had no idea” who the signatory of the letter was.
The illegitimate transfers would appear to qualify as “grand theft.” The FBI has participated in the identification and apprehension of “hackers” for “stealing confidential information” even when money itself was not stolen.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.