An ex-procurement official at the US Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, has confessed to stealing and selling more than 7,500 boxes of medical test strips from the medical center's pharmacy between 2017 and 2019. US Department of Veterans Affairs photo.
A longtime procurement official at the US Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan, has confessed to her role in a multistate theft ring that fenced more than $426,000 in stolen diabetes test strips.
Jennifer Robertson, 52, of Battle Creek, was released without bond from federal custody on Wednesday, Jan. 11, after she pleaded guilty to trafficking stolen medical products.
She’s slated to be sentenced on May 17 in Lansing before Chief US District Judge Hala Y. Jarbou. Robertson faces up to 20 years behind bars, three years of supervised release when she exits prison, and a $250,000 fine.
She’s also agreed to repay $426,615.35 in restitution to taxpayers for stealing and selling more than 7,500 boxes of the strips.
“My office takes government theft very seriously,” said US Attorney Mark Totten in a prepared statement. “Thefts from VA medical centers deprive other veterans of needed medical care and resources. My office is dedicated to serving and protecting our nation’s veterans.”
The 1,617 employees of the Battle Creek VA Healthcare System in Michigan serve 43,150 veterans. US Department of Veterans Affairs photo.
After posting a $10,000 bond, a 56-year-old co-conspirator — Michelle McAllister of Jerome, Michigan — also was released from custody on Wednesday after pleading guilty to the same charge.
Both women are expected to testify against the accused Pennsylvania ringleader of the plot, Steven William Anderson Jr.
Released Nov. 29 on a $50,000 bond, Anderson’s jury trial on a 12-count indictment is scheduled to begin on March 28 in Lansing before Chief Judge Jarbou.
Neither Robertson nor McAllister returned Coffee or Die Magazine’s messages seeking comment. Their attorneys also didn’t respond to messages.
Daily blood checks are vital to keeping blood sugar levels in check. Some diabetics may check their sugar levels three or four times a day. Diabetics normally check their blood sugar when they get up in the morning and after meals. US Army photo.
The case against Robertson dates back to 2017, when she was the procurement technician at the Battle Creek VA’s pharmacy. Her job included taking orders on her computer for diabetic test strips, which are dabbed with a drop of a patient’s blood and inserted into a glucose monitor.
According to their plea agreements, in mid-2017 Robertson saw an ad placed on social media by McAllister seeking to buy boxes of the strips. Robertson contacted her on the Facebook Messenger app and offered to sell her 10 boxes.
That began a working relationship that spanned more than two years, with Robertson stealing hundreds of boxes of strips from the VA pharmacy and transporting them to McAllister, who confessed to paying cash for the packages and then allegedly shipping the contraband to Anderson.
“The theft of medical supplies intended for our nation’s veterans is a grave offense. Such schemes erode public trust, steal from the taxpayer, and divert valuable resources away from those who have rightfully earned them,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory Billingsley of the VA Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office in a prepared statement. “My office is resolved to investigate and root out anyone who would attempt to benefit from these fraudulent activities.”
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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