ALBUQUERQUE ― Donah E. Davison, 54, of Las Cruces pled guilty Feb.15 in federal court to theft of government property and forgery charges arising out of a scheme to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Davison was charged on Nov. 9, 2016, in a 36-count indictment. The first 27 counts of the indictment charged Davison with embezzling money belonging to the VA by depositing 27 “surviving-spouse” benefit checks to which she was not entitled into her own bank account. Davison was charged with committing these crimes in Dona Ana County, between December 2011 and March 2014. The remaining nine counts of the indictment charged Davison with forging the intended payee’s name on checks nine times between April 2012 and January 2014.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Davison pled guilty to the 36-count indictment. In the plea agreement, Davison acknowledged that her mother began receiving “surviving-spouse” benefit checks from the VA in 1970 that were payable to her only. Davison admitted that when her mother died in 1997, she failed to inform the VA of her mother’s death and continued to collect and deposit the checks into her own bank account after signing her mother’s signature on the back of the checks.
Davison further admitted that the VA’s records reflect that since 2003, she stole $147,557.69 from the VA. According to court records, the VA did not maintain records prior to 2003.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Davison will be sentenced to four months in prison followed by four months of home confinement. Davison also will be required to serve a period of supervised release to be determined by the court. Davison will also be required to pay $147,557.69 in restitution to the VA. A sentencing hearing has yet to be scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division, and the Albuquerque office of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Balla of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office.