Man gets prison for stealing military widow’s benefits

SAN DIEGO — An Oceanside man was sentenced Monday to eight months in prison for stealing more than $145,000 in benefits intended for the widow of an armed services veteran.

Michael Vanden Brink, 57, admitted to converting the woman’s military-spouse benefits to his own use following her death in 2004.

In a guilty plea entered in the case in September, Brink acknowledged that he had known he was not entitled to the widow’s benefits and was aware that the money deposited into her bank account — over which he had control — rightfully belonged to the U.S. government.

“The prison sentence imposed in this case is an appropriate punishment for someone who, for more than a decade, stole taxpayer money intended for our nation’s veterans and their families,” San Diego-area U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer said.

In addition to handing down the custody sentence, U.S. District Judge John Houston also ordered Brink to serve three years of supervised post- incarceration release and to repay the amount of money he stole to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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