PORTLAND, Maine — A Topsham woman has been charged with misusing tens of thousands of dollars from her brother-in-law’s veterans benefits account.
Marsha Jacobs, 64, was appointed in 2003 the fiduciary of benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to her brother-in-law.
She allegedly used the money to build a $106,000 addition to her home in Nobleboro, pay for vacations to Florida and Las Vegas, buy a time share, pay college tuition and pay personal living expenses and other bills.
Estimates of the amount of money misused ranged from a low of $74,000 to a high of $279,000, the entire amount of the benefits her brother-in-law received between August 2003 and April 2010, according to the complaint.
Jacobs made her first appearance Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Portland on charges of misappropriations by a fiduciary and making false statements. She was released on personal recognizance bail.
A fiduciary is appointed to oversee the financial management of the recipient of VA benefits who is not capable of managing his or her own financial affairs, according to the complaint. A fiduciary is obligated to use the benefit money to pay for food, clothing, housing, medical expenses and personal items.
Information on why Bradley Jacobs qualified for benefits and was unable to manage his own finances is not included in court documents.
Regulations prevent fiduciaries from co-mingling their own funds with the benefits and from borrowing, loaning, giving away or investing the beneficiary’s funds, according to the complaint. Rules also require that fiduciaries keep accurate, complete records and receipts.
Between August 2006 and December 2009, Marsha Jacobs allegedly submitted false reports about the amount of money in her brother-in-law’s account. As an example, the complaint cited a Nov. 13, 2009, report in which she said there was more than $88,000 in the account. A check of bank records showed a balance of about $1,700 on that date in Bradley Jacobs’ account.
If convicted, Marsha Jacobs faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. She most likely would be ordered to pay restitution to the VA.