CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — Four people involved in a scam targeting veterans and veterans’ organizations in Kentucky and Indiana will spend time in prison.
According to US attorneys and the Secret Service, the scheme spanned six states and included more than one thousand victims. The victims were led to believe they were donating to a legitimate organization called the Wounded Warrior Fund, playing off the more widely known Wounded Warrior Project. Instead, the four people who were part of this deception, according to the original indictment, pocketed the money and used it for personal gain, including spending it on drugs and at an Indiana casino.
Attorneys said the four also profited from the death a southern Indiana veteran, using his name to solicit donations.
James Linville, Thomas Johnson, Amy Bennett and Joanie Watson pleaded guilty to their roles and will serve between three and five years in prison. A judge ordered them to pay restitution in addition to their prison sentences.
U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler called this one of the most despicable crimes he's seen during his career.
"It was really just a cruel scheme. They relied on honest people who earnestly wanted to support our veterans and the money was used to funnel a drug habit,” Minkler said.
The investigators who took this case on were given a U.S. Attorney's award for their work.