Michigan woman, 60, charged with defrauding $430,000 from VA

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A third suspect in a scheme to defraud nearly $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Michigan Department of Treasury has been charged in court, a state official said.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday in a statement that Sophia Quill, 60, was arraigned Wednesday in 18th District Court via videoconference on several charges:

► Conducting a criminal enterprise, a 20-year felony;

► Four counts of false pretenses between $50,000 and $100,000, a 15-year felony;

► Being a fourth habitual offender. Nessel said as fourth habitual offender, Quill faces up to life in prison if she's convicted of any of the charges.

A judge set Quill's bond at $10,000 and ordered her to have no contact with her co-defendants. He also scheduled a probable cause hearing in Quill's case for next Thursday and a preliminary examination hearing for May 6.

Authorities accuse Quill and two other defendants — one of whom is Quill's son — in a scheme to bilk the Veterans Affairs department out of more than $430,000 between 2013 and 2019. They also defrauded the Michigan Department of Treasury out of more than $40,000, officials said.

They allege Quill and Melissa Flores created aliases or created fake documents to make them appear as the heirs of various people who died. Quill’s son, Steven Decker, allegedly received proceeds from the scheme and used some of the money to conceal property used to conduct the fraud.

Both Decker and Flores were arraigned last year. Decker was charged with criminal enterprises – racketeering proceeds, a 20-year felony. Flores was charged with conducting a criminal enterprise; six counts of false pretenses $20,000 or more, a 15-year felony; and forgery of documents affecting real property, a 14-year felony, according to court records. 

Decker's jury trial in Wayne County Circuit Court is scheduled to begin May 28, according to court records. Meanwhile, Flores is scheduled to appear in Wayne County Circuit Court on May 20 for a final conference, records said.

Quill was not arraigned in Michigan along with her co-defendants because she is out of state and COVID-19 made extradition from Florida difficult, officials said. However, the district court recently coordinated a remote arraignment.

"I said it after the first arraignments and I’ll say it again — taking advantage of agencies that offer public benefits for our servicemembers and their families is a slap in the face to the brave men and women who protect this country," Nessel said in the statement. "Let the months spent building and prosecuting this case serve as a warning to anyone trying to defraud our state or federal agencies. It will not be tolerated."


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez