Veteran's relatives suspected of fraud
The relatives of a Canadian veteran were investigated for cashing his government veteran's pension for as many as eight years after his death.
According to a search warrant application filed at Richmond provincial court and obtained by The Richmond Review in January, Richmond's Alan Lexier and his wife Mary Lou Lexier were suspected of defrauding Veteran Affairs Canada of $125,725.72.
Mary Lou Lexier, a retired teacher from Delta, is the daughter of veteran Benjamin Dewberry, who died on Jan. 24, 1998. She and her husband are suspected of having continued to cash his pension cheques until as late as Sept. 30, 2006, the warrant claims.
The Review was aware of the allegations earlier this year, but declined to publish the story until charges were approved by the Crown.
Alan Lexier has now been charged with theft over $5,000, theft under $5,000, fraud over $5,000 and fraud under $5,000 and is scheduled to make his first apperance in Richmond provincial court on May 1. Mary Lou Lexier has not been charged.
Details of the RCMP investigation are included in a police application to obtain a driver's license photograph from the Insurance Corporation of B.C. of Alan Lexier, who until last summer was the umpire-in-chief for Richmond City Baseball Association. The photo was to be used for a line-up to show to the manager of a local mailbox rental business, where the Lexiers are alleged to have opened a post office box for the receipt of Dewberry's pension cheques.
The two-year RCMP investigation was launched in October 2009 after Mounties were contacted by Andre Joannette, director general of finance for Veterans Affairs Canada.
Dewberry had been admitted to a Burnaby residential care facility in October of 1997, and Mary Lou Lexier was named as his power of attorney who was responsible for payment of his share of costs to the facility, the court document states.
Dewberry died the following January 1998, but according to the search warrant, a benefit declaration form signed in the name of Dewberry and dated May 1, 1999 was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada.
"I infer by this that there was a willful misrepresentation of Benjamin Dewberry as living and eligible to receive his pension," the search warrant application states.
Investigators interviewed Mary Lou Lexier in 2009, and she claimed that Alan Lexier handled her father's affairs prior to his death.
She claimed she and her husband thought the veteran's pension money was a survivor's benefit.
"We had done everything we had stopped all his pensions, like his Canada Pension was stopped and all that kind of stuff was done," she said in the court document.
She claimed she never signed her father's name on a benefit declaration form.
"She is willing to pay back any money that is owed to Veterans Affairs Canada," the court document states. "She and Alan Lexier have always struggled financially—they have had three kids go through university and Alan Lexier had a stroke six years ago."
Alan Lexier, in a statement to investigators, said he couldn't figure out why Veterans Affairs Canada didn't know Dewberry had passed away because the family received money from Canada Pension to pay for his funeral, and he had lived in a veteran's hospital before he passed away.
Reached in January, Alan Lexier declined to comment.
But in a statement to police, he questioned whether criminal charges would still be forwarded if the family paid restitution.
Lexier's lawyer, Vincent Michaels, did not return phone calls.