On Thursday, October 5, 2017, it was announced that the former president of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation had been sentenced to prison for embezzling at least $149,317. 75-year-old John Thomas Burch of Alexandria, Virginia was sentenced to five months incarceration and five months of home detention. Burch previously pled guilty to wire fraud in June of 2017.
After he has served his sentence, Burch will serve two years of supervised release. He has also been ordered to pay $75,000 in a forfeiture money judgment. Statements made as a part of the plea confirm that Burch served as the president of the National Vietnam Veterans Foundation Inc. The nonprofit organization was incorporated in Washington, D.C. until 2016. It has since been disbanded.
The charity solicited donations from the public while promising to provide help and support to American veterans and their families. The charity utilized some of the donations to fulfill the company’s purported mission, but Burch misappropriated portions of the donations to pay for food and lodging with no business purpose. He also made frequent payments to women that were personal acquaintances of his.
The defendant had unilateral control over the charity’s “Emergency Assistance Program”. It accounted for tens of thousands of dollars of NVVF’s operating expenses during the 2012 and 2016 years. Burch claimed that it was a discretionary program that he ran as president. However, there was no actual oversight of Burch’s spending in the distribution of smaller grants. Burch often gave money to women who were engaged in a personal relationship with him.
The defendant also submitted expense reports claiming reimbursement for business expenses. In reality, the money was spent on personal visits to clubs, hotels and restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland. The government’s evidence suggests that Burch spent at least $149,317 of the charity’s money on personal expenses between 2012 and 2016. Again, the defendant has been sentenced to five months of incarceration and five months of home detention.