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Choctaw County man jailed and ordered to pay $1.5 million in fraud case

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Choctaw County man to more than five years in prison for taking advantage of an oversight to defraud the government out of nearly $1.5 million.

Brandon Leross Bailey pleaded guilty in June to theft of government property and bankruptcy fraud. He admitted to falsely claiming to be a Purple Heart recipient and engaging in a multi-layered scheme.

U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade sentenced Bailey to five years and three months in prison and ordered him to pay more than $1.45 million in restitution.

Bailey was a major in the US Air Force in 2010 when authorities charged him with illegal drug possession and theft. After a court martial, the Air Force dismissed him with the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge, according to court records.

But the defense finance and accounting department never received a notice of dismissal from Bailey, and he admitted to using that administrative error to collect paychecks and receive health care and military facilities. from 2010 to 2017. This amounted to a loss of $818,918 for the Air Force.

On multiple occasions, the defendant identified himself as a retired Air Force medic, combat rescue officer, Afghanistan combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient, court records show. .

Bailey also admitted to applying for disability benefits, saying several medical conditions made him unable to work. He fraudulently stated that he had been “medically disqualified for military service”, according to court records.

The defendant received $155,396 in disability benefits to which he was not entitled, and prosecutors alleged that he worked as a “veterans consultant” and part-time faculty member at a private university in Alabama, but had not disclosed this work to the Social Security Administration.

Bailey also admitted to defrauding the US Department of Agriculture by obtaining nearly $15,000 in profits from a conservation program known as the “Beginning Farmer or Rancher”. He was not allowed to participate in this program and collect disability benefits, according to the indictment.

Bailey also lied about his dishonorable release from applying for funds under a “veteran farmer or rancher program,” according to the plea document.

Lying about his military status also allowed Bailey to get bank loans, credit cards and other benefits he was not entitled to, the plea agreement says.

The bankruptcy fraud conviction related to a February 2019 filing. Prosecutors alleged Bailey hid $30,750 in rental income for real estate from Butler and about $33,817 in consulting and teaching income from a private university. In addition, the indictment charges him with concealing from the bankruptcy administrator two assets worth $139,760 and insurance proceeds of $89,250 which he received after a July 2019 house fire in Butler.