In closing the estate of a disabled veteran early this fall, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania became alerted to a case of fraud that has now resulted in charges being filed against a formerly married couple. The two are accused of defrauding a disabled veteran of $316,360 in VA and Social Security disability benefits over the course of twelve years.
In 1985, a man serving in the U.S. Army was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His conditioned worsened over time until his permanent hospitalization at the VA in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in late 2004. Two years later, VA staff examined the veteran and deemed him incompetent to handle his own finances. Two months later, one of the accused applied to become the veteran’s financial and legal custodian. Per the Fiduciary Agreement that one of the accused signed, all disability benefits were to go solely to the veteran. Not even a month after gaining control of the veteran’s benefits, the charges state that the couple begun their spending spree.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania states in the charges they filed that the former couple misspent $316,360 between October 2006 and August 2016. Here is how the couple spent that $316,360 in federal disability benefits.
Fraudulent spending included:
- $157,742 into the couples joint checking account.
- $7,174 check written to their two minor children, then collected by the couple.
- $19,890 in checks written to the couple’s best friends.
- Treating friends and family to dinners, all-expense paid vacations, two vehicles and dental work.
The charges against the couple include health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud. The relationship between the accused and the deceased veteran is not yet known.