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HOUSTON -- A Houston attorney and his wife surrendered Tuesday after they were indicted for conspiring to misappropriate more than $2 million from the accounts of military veterans, United States Attorney Jose Angel Moreno said.

Joe Phillips, 71, and his wife, Dorothy Phillips, 70, surrendered to federal authorities Tuesday.

A 26-count indictment charging the couple with conspiracy, misappropriation by a fiduciary, making materially false statements to a federal agency and tax fraud was returned by a Houston grand jury last Thursday.

Investigator said while Phillips worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs he served as a legal guardian for several veterans. Phillips and his wife took money from the veterans' bank accounts and then lied to the VA about how much money was in those accounts, investigators said.

Phillips owns and operates a small law firm called the Law Office of Joe Phillips in Houston. His wife served as his legal assistant and office manager.

Other than the tax fraud charge, which carries a maximum punishment of three years incarceration, all other offenses alleged in the indictment carry a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and a fine not to exceed $250,000. The Phillips may also be required to pay restitution.


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