Woman Pleads Guilty in Navy Vets Scam
A woman associated with the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, a group whose fundraising has raised questions in Virginia and elsewhere, pleaded guilty today to corruption, theft and money laundering.
Blanca Contreras entered the pleas in Cuyaghoga County Court of Common Pleas, according to a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General's Office. She faces a maximum sentence of 25 years.
Last year, Ohio authorities charged Contreras along with a man known as Bobby Thompson, who is accused of using a false identity to raise millions of dollars -- supposedly on the behalf of Navy veterans.
Thompson, who contributed $67,500 to prominent Virginia politicians, has been missing for more than a year. He is wanted in Ohio on charges of theft, fraud and money laundering.
The U.S. Navy Vets -- which had nothing more than a mail drop for a Virginia office -- collected more than $2 million from Virginians who thought they were donating funds to help military veterans, according to an investigation by the state's Office of Consumer Affairs.
The case has been turned over to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who received $55,500 from Thompson in campaign contributions two years ago. Virginia is one of several states that have launched probes of the U.S. Navy Vets, which is also being investigated by federal authorities.
Contreras is scheduled to be sentenced in August.
Source: The Roanoke Times, Va.