The Pueblo Chieftan

PW man who cheated vets gets 2-year sentence

DENVER — A former Pueblo West man who was a guardian for veterans who had been deemed incompetent to handle their own affairs was sentenced Thursday to two years in prison for embezzling from them.

Timothy Michael Owens previously admitted he embezzled $179,000 of government benefits from six veterans between January 2005 and May 2008.

U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn said the sentence he imposed will send a message to all guardians who cheat their wards that “they will pay with their liberty a high price.” The cheated veterans “deserve special protection and honor,” he said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs had appointed Owens to act as legal custodian of the benefits for the mentally ill veterans, who are believed to have lived in Pueblo and El Paso counties.

Owens admitted he took part of the benefits and used the money for himself. “I’m deeply remorseful for my actions,” Owens told the judge.

Investigator Randy Rupp of the VA’s Office of Inspector General gathered evidence which Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Rourke used to prosecute Owens.

O’Rourke urged the judge to impose a prison term of 2 1/2 years, pointing out Owens embezzled 140 times and had two other felony convictions. “This defendant should not receive the minimum sentence.”

reb1den@aol.com

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