The United States Government is ruthlessly protective of its money. It has teams of specially trained personnel that pour over financial statements to make sure every dime is going where it should be and to who it should be. Any hint of irregularity with a service member’s basic allowance for housing (BAH) or overseas housing allowance (OHA), may paint a target on your back.
In many instances, military law enforcement and commanders don’t seem to care whether an irregularity with BAH or OHA was simply a matter of mistake. We’ve seen military members getting chased by military prosecutors for BAH or OHA overpayments that were due to errors made by administrative clerks and not the member. Other times, the service member simply misunderstood a regulation, yet the government rushed for a court martial and the Marine’s career destruction.
In yet other instances, a service member may have acted inappropriately but did so because they needed money to make ends meet but were too proud to ask for help. In most instances, even when they came clean after being browbeaten by military investigators from CID, NCIS, OSI, or CGIS, their career was unapologetically destroyed with little to no command concern for their family.
Most BAH and OHA fraud cases are charged as larceny/stealing after law enforcement have conducted a targeted investigation, or financial personnel performed a random audit of money expenditures. BAH and OHA fraud cases can range from those involving hundreds of dollars, to tens of thousands of dollars or more.
If you are residing in a high-cost living area, you are most at risk of being targeted for an investigation or audit. Your LES and other financial documents, as well as your personal life, will be scoured over in order for the government to prove some misconduct on your part. Sadly, it is not unheard of for law enforcement agents and military administrative personnel to be frustratingly ignorant about the financial accounting records they are analyzing. This can cause a horrifically slow process for service members as they wait months and sometimes years to find out if their military career and reputation are going to be irreversibly damaged.
If you’ve been accused of BAH or OHA fraud, what you do about it is critical. You can sit on the sidelines waiting, or you can be proactive and fight for your career and your future. Whether you believe you are guilty or not really doesn’t matter, if you don’t fight, you’re almost guaranteed to end up in a worse position than if you did. Contact our office today to find out how we can help.
BAH and OHA fraud are not the only financial crimes we see. Service members that go TAD or TDY also fall victim to government DTS audits conducted to ensure that travel claims are not fraudulent. Fraudulent receipts and fraudulent travel vouchers cause a lot of problems.
Regardless of your situation, it is NOT hopeless.
Criminal charges under the UCMJ for financial crimes like DTS, BAH, and OHA fraud are often complex and law enforcement agents tend to make errors while investigating them. This creates opportunities. Opportunities for sloppy investigations with fatally defective flaws. Evidence can be missed and even destroyed. Agents can become exhausted with the paper chase and just give up. An investigation can drag on so long the command just loses interest.
But if you just give up without a fight, you all but GUARANTEE your outcome. You will probably be court martialed or administratively separated with a dishonorable discharge or an other than honorable (OTH) characterization of service. Fines will likely be imposed, putting you under a pile of debt and little promise of meaningful civilian employment. Your reputation will be ruined.
Our experienced military defense attorneys know how to fight BAH and OHA fraud cases. If you are looking for the best possible outcome in your case and you are willing to fight for that outcome, call our office today to learn how we would investigate, prepare, and defend your case.
Do any of these situations apply to you? Have you been targeted for an investigation or an audit? If yes, your entire financial life is more than likely going to be, or has been, examined under a microscope. All financial documents, lease and rental agreements, mortgage, bank, and cell phone records, military orders, and any other related matters are likely to be collected and analyzed by military law enforcement investigators.
The process will be slow. And even if a mistake led to you being overpaid, don’t expect for that to come out if you don’t aggressively fight the allegations against you. Investigators probably already think you are guilty and they will do all they can to prove it.
Importantly, although intentional fraud does occur in the military, not all investigated cases of BAH, OHA, or DTS overpayments involve UCMJ misconduct. Innocuous errors can be made. Regulations are onerous and complicated to comprehend. Most lawyers and Comptrollers have difficulty untangling the Joint Federal Travel Regulations (JFTR). As a result, honest mistakes are made by honorable service members that were trying to do the right thing.
Whatever the situation, the military defense attorneys at Noel Tipon have the experience and training needed to fight for service members facing any military financial fraud accusation.
If you are suspected of, being investigated for, or are currently charged with a financial crime, contact Noel Tipon to discuss how we would defend your case and fight for the best possible outcome.