Mich. woman, 60, accused of defrauding $430,000 from VA to stand trial

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
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A 60-year-old Michigan woman will stand trial for her alleged role in defrauding nearly $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Michigan Department of Treasury, an official said Friday.

Sophia Quill, 60, waived her preliminary exam in 18th District Court in Westland, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement Thursday. The case against Quill now moves to Wayne County Circuit Court for trial. 

"I am glad to see this case move to trial," the attorney general said. "My office will not stand for attempts to take advantage of the agencies that offer benefits to the public, especially to our brave servicemembers and their families. There must be accountability."

The announcement comes about four months after Nessel said Quill was one of three suspects accused in a scheme to defraud the Veterans Affairs department out of more than $430,000 between 2013 and 2019. During the same period, they also defrauded the Michigan Department of Treasury out of more than $40,000, according to officials.

Quill has been charged with several crimes, including: 

► Conducting a criminal enterprise, a felony punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment; 

► Four counts of obtaining $50,000 to $100,000 using a false pretense, each a 15-year felony;

► Two counts of obtaining $20,000 to $50,000 using a false pretense, each also a 15-year felony;

►Two counts of obtaining $1,000 to $20,000 using a false pretense, each a 5-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.

Authorities accuse Quill and two other people — one of whom is Quill's son — in the scheme.

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 on charges last year. Quill was not arraigned in Michigan along with them because she was out of state and COVID-19 made extradition from Florida difficult, officials said.

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 July 19. It was initially set for May 28 but was rescheduled by the court, according to court records.

Meanwhile, Flores pleaded guilty to charges in Wayne County Circuit Court in May and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12, records said.

cramirez@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

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