Businessman Cheated VFW,|Faces up to 20 Years

     HOUSTON (CN) – A businessman who pocketed $100,000 the Veterans of Foreign Wars gave him to build a system for soldiers in Iraq to talk to families faces up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty, prosecutors said.
     Joe Nichols, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
     “Nichols agreed to assist the VFW by having his company, Prasolus, serve as project manager to get the communication hardware and software to Iraq,” prosecutors said in the statement.
     “The Texas VFW raised approximately $182,000 for the communication project, from which Nichols submitted invoices for payment. In June 2007, he traveled to the national headquarters of the VFW in Kansas City and induced the national VFW to give him an additional $100,000, which he said he needed to complete the communication project and deploy it to Iraq.
     “Although the national VFW mailed a check to Nichols for $100,000, the communication system was never delivered. Instead, he used funds from the $100,000 for his personal benefit.”
     Nichols also faces a $250,000 fine at his Oct. 22 sentencing.
     He is free on bond.

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