LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas woman could spend nearly two years in prison after being found guilty of misusing more than $143,000 of her husband’s military disability income to buy drugs and a second home, among other items.
Brandi Goldman, 49, of Jonesboro was sentenced Tuesday to 20 months in prison, three years of supervised release and ordered to repay the stolen funds, KARK-TV reported.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Goldman was indicted in 2020 and pleaded guilty earlier this year.
Prosecutors argued that in 2015 Goldman married a reservist in the U.S. Army, who had a severe traumatic brain injury stemming from a service-related incident. She was appointed her husband’s guardian, which required her to sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs detailing how her husband’s finances were to be managed, KARK reported.
According to prosecutors, Goldman assumed control of her husband’s finances in April 2015, but spent nearly $200,000, or roughly 75% of the nearly $260,000 in VA disability payments and $36,000 in Social Security payments, he earned by November 2017, KAIT-TV reported.
“In part, the agreement stated that funds were to be used for the beneficiary and that Goldman was not permitted to borrow, loan, or gift money belonging to the beneficiary,” Jonathan Ross, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said in a prepared statement.
Goldman admitted to spending much of the money on drugs, with about $150 being spent on methamphetamine two to three times a week. She also said five other people moved into the couple’s home and that she regularly gave those people cash, KAIT reported.
The news release also said Goldman paid $68,000 in cash for other belongings, including a second home, furniture, a vehicle and a trailer.
“To steal from a veteran who is incapacitated is an egregious crime. However, that this crime was committed by a fiduciary is particularly pathetic,” said Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Breen of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s South Central Field Office.
“Today’s sentence should send a clear message that the VA OIG will vigorously investigate those who would exploit our nation’s most vulnerable veterans,” Breen added.