HOUSTON, Febuary 8, 2017 - Two area men have been ordered to federal prison following their convictions of conspiracy and wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury sitting in Houston convicted Aaron Matthew Pierce, 37, of Houston, following a five-day trial Nov. 14, 2016, while Darrell Demond Arline, 37, of Pearland, pleaded guilty on the first day of trial to all counts as charged - conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 14 counts of wire fraud.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett, who presided over the trial, handed Arline a 48-month sentence, while Pierce was ordered to serve a sentence of six months in federal prison, each to be followed by three and two years, respectively. Arline was further ordered to pay a $316,512.13 in restitution and Pierce’s restitution amount was set at $18,016. In handing down the sentence, Judge Bennett noted that the victims of this crime were the military veterans of this country.
Airline was Goodwill’s program manager for U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) grants. These were multi-million dollar grants which were awarded to Goodwill Industries of Houston to aid Veterans and their families with housing.
Arline recruited his friend, Pierce, to cash fraudulently issued SSVF grant checks by allowing his name and a sham sole proprietorship to be used to represent to Goodwill that he was providing emergency housing assistance to veterans and their families who were either homeless or about to become homeless.
Between Jan. 3, 2013, and Aug. 28, 2014, Pierce and Arline entered into a conspiracy to steal money from the grant by submitting fraudulent purchase orders resulting in the theft of grant monies. The SSVF grants were intended to provide supportive services to very low-income military veteran families who were residing in permanent housing, were homeless and scheduled to become residents of permanent housing within 90 days and after exiting permanent housing or were seeking other housing that was responsive to such very low-income military veteran family’s needs.
Previously released on bond, Arline was taken into custody following the sentencing today where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Pierce was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
The VA - Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel C. Rodriguez and Adam L. Goldman prosecuted the case.