A 74-year-old North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to embezzling from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was sentenced at the beginning of the year by a federal judge. He admitted last June to embezzling nearly $1 million over the years in health care benefits from the VA.
The Fayetteville man was sentenced to five years probation and 250 hours community service. He also has to pay back the money and forfeit a van, a mobility scooter and a condo on Carolina Beach.
The defendant is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Army. He is also a retired member of the Fayetteville Police Department. According to court documents, he defrauded the VA by reporting that he was unable to perform daily activities because he’d lost the use of his legs due to shrapnel wounds in the war. He reported that he needed either a scooter or wheelchair, an adapted van and modifications to his home. He also claimed to have lost bladder and bowel control.
However, prosecutors contended that the man in fact continued to lead an active lifestyle, working as a firearms instructor and participating in sports and social activities that required physical ability he claimed not to have. They also found that his condo was on the third floor of a building with no elevator.
The judge in the case cited the man’s age and his service record as two of the reasons why he didn’t receive a harsher sentence.
Federal agencies might seem like labyrinths of bureaucrats and red tape. However, they can and do investigate cases of suspected fraud and will not hesitate to prosecute those they believe have obtained benefits under false pretenses. If you’re aware that you’re under investigation or are already facing federal charges, it’s essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.