JONESBORO — A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a Jonesboro woman to one year and eight months in prison for misusing more than $143,000 in disability payments intended for her injured veteran husband.
Brandi Goldman, 49, received the sentence in Little Rock from U.S. District Judge James M. Moody, Jr.
In 2013, Goldman was married to a United States Army Reservist who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury in a service-connected accident, according to a news release from the U.S. attorney's office. As a result of this injury, her husband had many serious physical challenges, and Goldman was appointed as his guardian. Her husband began receiving disability payments, and Goldman signed a fiduciary agreement with Veterans Affairs (VA) detailing the terms of her management of his finances.
In part, the agreement stated that funds were to be used for the beneficiary and that Goldman was not permitted to borrow, loan, or gift money belonging to the beneficiary. When Goldman officially took over her husband's accounts in April 2015, through November 2017 after her activity was reported to authorities, she received $258,613.54 in VA disability payments and $36,000 in Social Security payments. During that timeframe, she withdrew $199,649.30 in cash and accrued about $900 in ATM and overdraft fees.
Goldman admitted to spending much of the cash to fund her methamphetamine habit, spending $150 on methamphetamine two to three times per week. She also admitted that five other people moved into the residence with her and her husband, none of whom paid rent or contributed to expenses, some of whom she regularly gave cash. Goldman also admitted paying $68,000 in cash for another home, furnishings for the home, a vehicle, and a motor home. She told investigators she purchased vehicles for several people and gave money to her daughters as well as her husband's parents.
Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Breen of the VA Office of Inspector General's South Central Field Office, said stealing from a veteran who is incapacitated is an egregious crime.
"However, that this crime was committed by a fiduciary is particularly pathetic," Breen said. "Today's sentence should send a clear message that the VA OIG will vigorously investigate those who would exploit our nation's most vulnerable veterans."
A grand jury indicted Goldman in July 2020 with one count of misappropriation by a fiduciary and one count of theft of government funds. In June 2022, she pleaded guilty to misappropriation by a fiduciary in exchange for the other count being dismissed. In addition to prison, the judge sentenced Golden to 3 years of supervised release and ordered her to pay $143,000 in restitution.
The case was investigated by the VA – Office of the Inspector General and the Social Security Administration. Assistant U.S. Attorney Liza Brown prosecuted the case.