Former Martinsburg VA aide sentenced for stealing from vets

October 13, 2009

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- A nurse's aide who was employed at Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg was sentenced recently to two years and six months in prison for stealing more than $50,000 belonging to two veterans receiving care at the facility.

Susan A. Watts, 39, of Martinsburg, was ordered to pay $54,353.79 in restitution to the estate of one victim and $1,812.10 to a second victim, according to an announcement last week by acting U.S. Attorney Betsy C. Jividen's office.

Watts entered a guilty plea in June 2009 to one count of unauthorized use of an access device and was sentenced last month, according to Jividen's office.

The illegal use of patients' debit cards began in September 2007 and continued through March 2008 and included $13,175 in purchases made after one victim had died, according to the release.


Chief Judge John P. Bailey ordered Watts on Sept. 29 to also serve three years of supervised release.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin K. Reisenweber and investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General in conjunction with the Martinsburg VA Medical Center's police department, according to Jividen's office.

In a separate case also investigated by the inspector general's office and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center's police department, Jividen's office announced that Carl D. Helton, 54, of Martinsburg was sentenced to nine years and one month in prison for his conviction on one count of possession of child pornography.

Helton's prison sentence is to be followed by 10 years of supervised release, and he must also register as a sex offender. He entered a guilty plea to the charge in July 2009, and is expected to self-report next month, according to Jividen's office.

Reisenweber also prosecuted the Helton case.

In other court action last week:

o Sean Tyree Dickerson, 22, of Forrestville, Md., entered a guilty plea to one count of an indictment charging him with the possession with intent to distribute "crack" cocaine on July 13, 2006, in Martinsburg.

o Cedric A. Smith, 26, of Washington, D.C., entered a guilty plea to one count of an indictment charging him with the distribution of "crack" cocaine, also on July 13, 2006, in Martinsburg.

o Arturo Vargas Garcia, 40, formerly of Virginia, was sentenced by Bailey last month to two years and six months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after entering a guilty plea in May to one count of illegal re-entry into the U.S. after having previously been removed as an alien. Garcia was discovered in Jefferson County in February 2009, according to Jividen's office.

The drug cases were investigated by the Eastern Panhandle Drug & Violent Crime Task Force, which includes officers from the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Martinsburg Police Department and Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

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