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January 2019
Tim Bilecki

Bilecki Reduces DFAS Debt by $187K for Air Force E-8 Facing BAH Charges

BAH Fraud
Hickam, Hawaii
Air Force Senior Master Sergeant – E-8
Remission of over $187,000 of the DFAS debt.

In January 2019, an Air Force Senior Master Sergeant at Hickam, Hawaii, faced serious allegations of BAH fraud, with accusations suggesting over $250,000 in fraudulent BAH entitlements. The case’s complexity stemmed from an initial investigation by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which presented a grossly inflated figure of alleged fraud.

Understanding the severity of these allegations, the Senior Master Sergeant retained Tim Bilecki, a defense attorney with expertise in military fraud under Article 132 UCMJ. Bilecki’s defense approach was crucial, especially given the OSI’s inaccurate calculation of the debt, which seemingly misrepresented the amount of fraud and larceny without a proper assessment by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).

Bilecki’s team initiated a strategic appeal to DFAS, challenging the OSI’s flawed investigation and its conclusions. This process involved a detailed analysis and presentation of evidence to DFAS, demonstrating that the OSI had not accurately calculated the debt. Importantly, Bilecki highlighted a critical misunderstanding often found in military fraud investigations: law enforcement’s tendency to label the total BAH received as fraudulent without considering the legitimate entitlement based on actual living circumstances.

For example, if a service member claims a spouse is living in a high BAH area like New York City but is in Oklahoma City, law enforcement might inaccurately categorize the entire New York City BAH amount as fraudulent. However, the service member would still be entitled to the BAH for Oklahoma City, which significantly reduces the amount considered fraudulent. Utilizing this approach, Bilecki’s team argued for a recalculation of the alleged debt.

Upon formally appealing to DFAS and presenting a meticulously drafted memorandum that outlined the inaccuracies and requested a debt recalculation, DFAS conducted its review. This process, initiated for the first time after Bilecki’s intervention, led to a significant revision of the debt amount. DFAS granted the appeal in part, resulting in the remission of over $187,000 of the alleged debt, a testament to the effectiveness of Bilecki’s defense strategy and the importance of challenging initial law enforcement assessments in military fraud cases.  Our office was only retained to remit the debt, and we did not try the case, which went to a general court martial.

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