JBER battalion commander charged in $400K fraud scheme
The head of an Army unit stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is charged with filing nearly half a million dollars in fraudulent insurance claims spanning more than three years.
Lt. Col. Christopher DeMure, 40, faces charges of mail and wire fraud as well as money laundering in the case, according to U.S. Attorney for Alaska, Bryan Schroder’s office. DeMure – commander of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment within the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division – allegedly made over $475,000 in false claims and received nearly $400,000 from September 2014 to February of this year.
U.S. Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell confirmed DeMure’s status as commander of the battalion, which recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, but he referred all other questions about the case to Schroder’s office.
According to charging documents, DeMure’s scheme involved claims made to military insurer USAA Federal Savings Bank as well as American Express on at least seven separate occasions. In one incident, he allegedly claimed more than $215,000 in false losses from a U-Haul van he said was burglarized in July 2016 when he moved to JBER from Fort Benning, Ga.
In a Palmer case from last year, DeMure allegedly told local police a backpack containing an Apple iWatch and goods worth thousands of dollars was stolen from the parking lot of the Palmer Fred Meyer. After speaking with Palmer police officer Virginia Calvert, he allegedly submitted a fake Palmer police report written by an “Officer Z. Calvert” to American Express to document his claim – a report denied by the real Officer Calvert when investigators spoke with her.
“Among other things, Officer Calvert advised that Palmer PD did not generate a police report related to Chris DeMure's calls on July 11, 2017, and that she was not the author of the document that Chris DeMure provided to [American Express],” prosecutors wrote.
Another incident saw DeMure make a false report to Los Angeles police of a missing bag during a July 2017 trip to Fiji, according to charging documents.
“DeMure spent much of the insurance payout money to pay off automobile loans, credit cards, mortgage loans, and other personal debts and expenses, including a 2016 Chevrolet Suburban and a 2016 Audi A7,” prosecutors wrote in Thursday’s statement.
If convicted, DeMure faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
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