Brandon Bailey was expelled from the US Air Force in 2010 after being convicted by court martial of drug trafficking and theft in what prosecutors described as the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge.
But that didn’t stop him from getting a paycheck.
Due to an “administrative error” in payroll, the government said, Bailey continued to be paid by the Air Force for six years after his termination. Meanwhile, he is accused of pocketing more than $800,000 and lying about his military service to raise additional funds from other federal programs.
Now the 43-year-old is heading to jail.
On Wednesday, April 6, a judge in the Southern District of Alabama sentenced Bailey to five years and three months behind bars, plus three years of probation. Bailey was also ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution as well as give up his four-bedroom home in Maine and 78 acres of property in Butler, Alabama.
A defense attorney representing him did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Friday, April 8.
Bailey had reached the rank of major in the Air Force when he appeared before a court martial in July 2010 and was convicted of unlawful use and possession of a controlled substance as well as theft, according to his indictment. His sentence included dismissal from the army.
Prosecutors said Bailey was put on what is called “appellate leave” in October 2010, when he was no longer eligible to receive Air Force pay.
But the Defense Finance and Accounting Department, which oversees payroll for the U.S. Department of Defense, was not notified of Bailey’s firing, his indictment says. Prosecutors said Bailey was then left on the payroll from October 2010 to March 2017, earning her $818,918.
According to the government, Bailey never told the Air Force about it and “took advantage of the payroll error.” In addition to cashing his paychecks, prosecutors said, Bailey periodically received health care from military installations and continued to access his Air Force personnel page looking for W-2s and records. monthly payroll.
“On several occasions, he falsely presented himself publicly as an active member of the Air Force and relied on Air Force documents to open bank accounts and obtain loans, credit cards and other valuables that he was not legally entitled to receive,” prosecutors said. in the indictment.
The government said Bailey also lied on his application for Social Security disability insurance by claiming in part that he was “medically disqualified for military service.”
While receiving disability insurance, Bailey ran a farm in Alabama and worked as a “veterans consultant” and part-time faculty member at a private college. He also claimed to be an Air Force medic, a combat rescue officer, a veteran of a combat tour in Afghanistan and a recipient of a Purple Heart, according to his indictment.
Then, in February 2019, prosecutors said Bailey filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in which he failed to disclose more than $30,000 in rental income, $33,000 in teaching income, and counseling and $3,600 in income from disabled U.S. veterans.
It’s unclear how Bailey’s scheme unfolded, but a grand jury indicted him three days after Christmas in 2020 on 13 counts of theft of government property, misrepresentation, concealment of assets and fraudulent transfer of property.
Bailey pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government property and one count of concealing assets in June, court documents show.
Prosecutors said Bailey was released after his initial arrest, but a judge revoked his bail in January after he was caught with guns at his Maine home in violation of his release conditions.
The government had pushed for a sentence below recommended guidelines, calling Bailey a “serial fraudster” and saying it would not recommend a reduced sentence for him by accepting responsibility for the alleged pre-trial violations.
“Bailey’s alleged misconduct pending sentencing was brazen, indicative of a lack of acceptance of responsibility and worthy of punishment,” prosecutors said in the sentencing papers.
But Bailey’s defense attorney refuted the claim that he was not taking responsibility, citing a conversation he had with his probation officer.
“I did,” Bailey reportedly said. “I feel awful. I hate what’s happening. I’ll never do it again. That’s for sure.”
The US Probation Office has calculated that Bailey should be sentenced to between 63 and 78 months in prison. The judge eventually sentenced him to 63 months for theft of public funds and 60 months for concealment of assets.
The sentences will be served at the same time.