A supervisory Border Patrol agent was convicted Thursday of lying to a federal grand jury in connection with an investigation into a benefits-fraud scheme, prosecutors announced Friday.
David Wayne Skinner aided in a scheme to defraud the Marine Corps of $205,628 in benefits claims and then lying to investigators and the grand jury about it, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to court records, former U.S. Marines Corp Lt. Col. Michael Strom pretended to rent a home from former Marine reservist Major Jason Wild from 2006 to 2010. Skinner assisted in the scheme by signing a fake lease agreement used by Strom to make the claims and by trying to call the military authorities responsible for paying the claims, prosecutors said.
All of Strom's claims listed Skinner as the landlord for Wild's property, but Skinner never received any of the $98,716 in rent Strom claimed to have paid him, court records show. Instead, Strom paid Skinner $1,000 for the duration of the scheme, prosecutors said.
Strom pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy and making a false claim in 2016 and Wild was convicted in November 2016 after a separate trial. Both men were sentenced to prison terms, and the pair has repaid the entire $205,628 back to the Marine Corps, prosecutors said.
Skinner lied to investigators in August 2013 when he was asked about the fake lease. When shown a copy of the lease agreement, Skinner said he never saw it, according to prosecutors.
He again denied signing the lease when interviewed by investigators and prosecutors in April 2015. Skinner also denied ever seeing the fake lease agreement when he testified in front of the grand jury in September 2015. When shown the agreement, he acknowledged the signature on it was his but could not explain how it arrived on the document he had never seen, according to prosecutors.
Skinner also denied receiving any money from Strom even tough the two had spoken on the phone the day Strom wrote Skinner the check for $1,000, prosecutors said.
After a three-day trial, Skinner was convicted of lying to the grand jury when issuing the denials about the lease agreement. He was acquited of a separate count of falsely denying receiving money from Strom.
"The conduct of Agent Skinner is particularly reprehensible given that he is serving as a federal law enforcement official," said Chris Hendrickson, Special Agent in Charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service's Western Field Office. "Those who serve in the Government have an obligation to uphold the public's trust or pay the consequences."
Skinner now faces five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced on Aug. 6.