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Charges were announced this week against a now divorced Pennsylvania couple who allegedly defrauded a disabled vet of hundreds of thousands of dollars while he was permanently hospitalized at the Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center (known commonly as the VA).
The man was charged with one count of health care fraud, while his wife received the same charge plus an additional count of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud.
The charges allege that between October 2006 and August 2006 the couple misspent $316,360 of the veteran’s VA and Social Security benefits. The man had been serving as the vet’s fiduciary and legal custodian, which mean that benefits were deposited directly into his checking account.
The man is alleged to have submitted false annual accounting to the VA over an eight year period. For example, the man claimed he spent nearly $33k on maintenance for the veteran’s specially equipped wheelchair van, which was found broken down and abandoned along a Perry County roadside.
The veteran died at the Lebanon VA Hospital on July 30, 2018.
Although the veteran has not been explicitly identified by the government, July 30 was the same day that the brother of the alleged fraudster passed away at none other than Lebanon’s VA hospital. We have not confirmed that the man’s brother was whose estate he defrauded, but the coincidence seems too unlikely not to mention.
The man and wife are alleged to have spent the money on dinners, vacations to Disney World, dental work, automobiles, and kickbacks for friends who assisted in the fraud by cashing checks on behalf the couple. The couple also allegedly enlisted their children to cash checks on their behalf.
In the period examined, the Juniata couple received $476,260 in total federal benefits, but the charges only allege that $316,360 were misspent.
It is not clear if the difference was spent legally towards the benefit of the veteran, or if those funds simply haven’t been accounted for yet.
The veteran had been declared incompetent to handle his own financial affairs on August 8, 2006, and the Juniata man successfully petitioned to serve as his fiduciary on October 2, 2006.
According to PennLive, the man has a tentative plea agreement to submit a guilty plea. He could serve up to 10 years in prison and will be made to commit to full restitution.
Editor’s note: We have intentionally not named the alleged couple, as you can find those names easily, and it also turns out that the man at the center of this alleged crime shares a name with another well-known “wounded warrior” who would be negatively impacted by having his search results linked with this alleged crime.