A former U.S. Marine Captain stationed at Camp Pendleton has pleaded guilty to submitting tens of thousands of dollars in false receipts to the Marine Corps and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced Wednesday that Capt. Shawn A. Joyce, 33, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in connection with a scheme involving fake lodging receipts he allegedly turned in from 2009 to 2011 while stationed at Camp Pendleton.
According to his plea agreement, Joyce had been discharged from active duty in October 2008, and then entered the Marine Corps reserves. A short time later, he sought and obtained orders placing him back on active duty at Camp Pendleton.
Officials say that under certain circumstances, reservists called to active duty become eligible for a housing reimbursement benefit during the term of their active duty, in addition to their basic housing allowance.
Prosecutors say Joyce allegedly exploited this housing reimbursement benefit by falsely claiming reimbursement for rent that he never paid.
For instance, in 2009 and 2010, Joyce falsely claimed to be paying rent up to $4,030 per month for an address in Solana Beach. In 2011, he claimed to be paying rent of $3,700 per month for an address in Fountain Valley.
To conceal the fraud, prosecutors say Joyce submitted false rental receipts to the Marine Corps. He also allegedly created a fake email address in the name of his former landlord at the Solana Beach address.
Investigators say the email address was used without his former landlord’s consent to facilitate the fraud.
Joyce’s scheme didn’t end there.
In his plea agreement, Joyce also admitted to defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Under federal law, as service member receiving VA disability benefits is not entitled to simultaneously receive active duty compensation.
To avoid this, service members who receive VA disability benefits are required to tell the VA when they receive orders placing them on active duty. Joyce failed to do this, and continued to get VA disability benefits to which he was not entitled.
From time to time, Joyce contacted the VA trying to increase the amount of his disability payments, prosecutors said.
In the end, Joyce pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, and acknowledged defrauding the Defense Department of $48,740 and the VA of $41,862. Joyce has agreed to pay restitution in the full amount of the losses.
Joyce faces a maximum of 20 years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine for each count. He also faces three years of supervised release, restitution, forfeiture and a $100 special assessment.
His sentencing is scheduled for November 18 before U.S. District Judge John A. Houston.