A Milwaukie man stole more than $570,000 from his disabled cousin while claiming to be his legal guardian, according to the Department of Justice.
Michael Braun, 68, was sentenced to 30 months in prison Monday.
Investigators said Braun was appointed legal guardian of his cousin, who is described as cognitively disabled, in 1984 after his cousin's parents died in California. The cousin was brought to Oregon and Braun became the recipient of a Defense Finance and Accounting Services annuity purchased for his cousin by his cousin's father, who was a retired Navy commander.
According to court records, Braun placed his cousin in the Fairview Training Center in 1984 and had limited contact with him after that time.
In 1990, Braun was discharged as his cousin's guardian by the circuit court of Washington County, however investigators said he failed to notify the Defense Finance and Accounting Services of the change.
Instead, he submitted a certificate of eligibility each year certifying that he was the legal garden and had the annuity payments deposited into his bank account, according to investigators.
The payments ranged from $1,500 to $2,700 a month. Between January 1990 and December 2012, Braun received $573,604 in annuity payments, according to the Department of Justice.
Braun was ordered to pay that amount in restitution and serve a three-year term of supervised release once his prison sentence is complete.
The victim has lived in residential facilities for the past 30 years with only Social Security benefits as income. The fraud was discovered when his current guardian received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service regarding owed taxes, which led to the discovery of the substantial annuity payments he had not received.
During court proceedings, the current guardian care manager stated the victim has lived with limited resources and the funds could have improved his quality of life.
"One of a parent's greatest fears is whether a surviving child will be properly cared for in the event of the parent's death. Defendant's uncle took great measures to ensure that his son - who would require life-long care - had sufficient funds and a trusted family member to care for him. In return, defendant abandoned his cousin financially as well as emotionally, at a time when (the victim) had no other family to care for him," according to a statement from the government.
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