For Immediate Release
Aynor Resident Sentenced for Theft of Government Funds, Firearms
Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Steven Mickey Bunker, age 47, of Aynor, South Carolina was sentenced today in federal court in Florence, South Carolina, for theft of government funds, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641, and conspiracy to make false statements when purchasing a firearm, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. United States District Judge R. Bryan Harwell of Florence sentenced Bunker to imprisonment for 24 months, 3 years of supervised release, and restitution in the amount of $108,489.36.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the Department of Veterans Affairs began an investigation of Steven Mickey Bunker after the Sun News interviewed Bunker and published an article concerning injuries he claimed to have sustained while serving in the military in Iraq. After the news article was published, the Department of Veterans Affairs was notified because the newspaper received so much negative feedback indicating that Bunker had made false statements concerning his injuries. At the time, Bunker was receiving total disability from the VA as a result of his claims that he was paralyzed and unable to walk, drive, eat, or otherwise take care of himself without assistance. Bunker’s total disability included payment for others to take care of him at his home. Bunker also received over $40,000 to purchase a vehicle to be driven by someone without the use of their legs, which Bunker promptly traded for a Hummer. The VA’s investigation revealed that Bunker was able to walk, drive, and otherwise take care of himself. As a result of Bunker’s false claims, he received over $159,000 in VA benefits. In addition, Bunker had purchased twenty-three firearms using straw purchasers. The straw purchasers falsely stated on the ATF forms that they were purchasing the firearms for themselves when in fact Steven Bunker picked out and paid for the firearms. Steven Bunker was not permitted to purchase firearms because of a prior felony conviction for lewd act or attempted lewd act upon a minor less than 16 years of age.
The case was investigated by agents of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Assistant United States Attorney William E. Day II prosecuted the case.