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Case News:

Ms. D took over as her father’s guardian after it became clear the previous guardian was not paying her father’s bills. As part of these duties, Ms. D was the fiduciary for her father’s VA benefits. When Ms. D took over, her father had many unpaid medical bills, as well has a large divorce settlement. In the first year, Ms. D worked closely with her contact at the VA to submit accountings and get approval for payments. Unfortunately, over the next year or so, Ms. D’s personal life became more complicated and she resigned as guardian and fiduciary after about three years. After Ms. D resigned, the VA started an investigation into misuse that lasted almost three years. The VA claimed she made unauthorized payments for herself and her family totaling about $30,000 over three years, even though after Ms. D resigned, her father continued to gift her (with VA approval) about $10,000 a year until his death in 2021. Inexplicably, while conducting a wide ranging investigation into Ms. D’s life, including interviews of her old boss and old apartment manager, the agents never looked for internal documents outside of those in the “LCM/VBMS”, the VA database of claim documents. That database lacked many critical documents, including letters between the VA and Ms. D, documentation she provided to the VA, and the extensive email exchanges between Ms. D and her main contact at the VA. Finally, after multiple discovery requests, the government finally searched for and turned these documents, which corroborated what Ms. D had been saying for years, that many of the payments the VA investigation labeled as “unauthorized” were in fact either authorized or disclosed to the VA at the time. After being confronted with this evidence the government dismissed the two counts of wire fraud and two counts of theft of government property pending against Ms. D. Congrats to Ms. D and her entire defense team (pictured below).


Staff News:

Please welcome Amanda Merfeld as our new Social Worker/Mitigation Specialist!

Amanda is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who will be joining us from the Colorado Public Defender system. Her practice covers six PD offices throughout the state and she has extensive experience working closely with clients and their families, developing mitigation evidence, helping draft sentencing memos, and testifying at sentencing hearings. She has also built strong relationships with local service providers and the probation department to help clients succeed both pretrial and post-conviction; organized trainings on sentencing presentations, community resources, cultural competence and personal wellness; supervised MSW interns; and testified before the Colorado legislature about bills and issues affecting social services. She is also the recipient of the statewide public defender 2020 Outstanding Service Award and 2022 Social Worker of the Year award. And, as was apparent during her interviews, Amanda is an enthusiastic and collaborative person who is deeply dedicated to serving clients and our mission. Welcome Amanda!