US Army financial counselor admits to defrauding millions from Gold Star families: DOJ

NEW YORK — A former financial counselor for the United States Army pleaded guilty to defrauding the families of fallen servicemembers out of life insurance payments, the U.S. attorney's office announced Tuesday.

Gold Star family members are the immediate beneficiaries of servicemembers who have died in active-duty military service and are entitled to a $100,000 payment and the servicemember's life insurance of up to $400,000, according to the organization.

Caz Craffy, from Colts Neck, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to obtaining more than $9.9 million from several Gold Star families to invest in accounts managed by Craffy in his private capacity without the families' authorization, according to prosecutors.

Craffy was a civilian employee of the U.S. Army, working as a financial counselor with the Casualty Assistance Office, but he was also a major in the U.S. Army Reserves, where he has been enlisted since 2003, prosecutors said.

From May 2018 to November 2022, the Gold Star family accounts suffered more than $3.7 million in losses and Craffy made more than $1.4 million in commissions, according to prosecutors.

"Those who target and steal from the families of fallen American servicemembers will be held accountable for their crimes," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in the press release.

"Nothing can undo the enormous loss that Gold Star families have suffered, but the Justice Department is committed to doing everything in our power to protect them from further harm," Garland said.

On Tuesday, Craffy pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including six counts of wire fraud and one count each of securities fraud, making false statements in a loan application, committing acts affecting a personal financial interest and making false statements to a federal agency, according to the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office's press release.

"Caz Craffy admitted today that he brazenly took advantage of his role as an Army financial counselor to prey upon families of our fallen service members, at their most vulnerable moment, using lies and deception," U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said in the press release.

"These Gold Star families have laid the dearest sacrifice on the altar of freedom. And they deserve our utmost respect and compassion, as well as some small measure of financial security from a grateful nation," Sellinger said.

Craffy entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Georgette Castner in Trenton, New Jersey and is scheduled for sentencing on Aug. 21.

Craffy's plea agreement calls for a prison sentence of eight to 10 years, according to prosecutors, and the restitution amount will be announced during his sentencing.

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