Defraud the VA and they’ll take your Ferraris away

Jonathan Kaupanger
July 19, 2018 - 4:28 pm

Dreamstime

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From a veteran busted for tweaking his DD-214 to a couple forced to hand over millions of dollars’ worth of property, including Corvettes and Three Ferraris after pleading guilty to fraud and bribery; these are just some of cases investigated by the VA’s Office of Inspector General this month. 

Health Care Investigations

  • Payments to outside providers for VA’s Choice Program are paid through contractors. One contractor had to pay VA back for more than $40 million because of overpayments due to duplicate invoices submitted by the contractor.
  • In Massachusetts a VA medical center employee pled guilty to distribution of Morphine. The investigation was a result of a yearlong collaboration between VA’s Inspector General and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The investigation also discovered several veterans who purchased drugs from the defendant while receiving addiction treatment at the medical center. The employee was terminated after VA was notified of the conduct.
  • In Texas, a veteran pled guilty to receiving child pornography while residing at the Big Spring VAMC. The defendant used the VA network to access an outside email account containing the offensive material.

Benefits Investigations

  • A veteran was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to healthcare fraud. The veteran altered his DD-214 to show he had 23 years of military service, including combat during the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The investigation discovered that the veteran never left the United States during his two brief enlistments in the Army Reserves. The defendant also claimed that he was exposed to gunfire, witnessed other soldiers die and was injured by an improvised explosive device. Because of these claims, he was awarded an 80 percent disability rating but was paid 100 percent due to individual unemployability. In addition to imprisonment and three years’ probation the defendant was ordered to pay restitution of more than $244,000 to VA. The defendant’s former spouse was also paid more than $40k in Caregiver Support Program payments.

Investigations for Other Matters

  • A parking services company owner pled guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and major fraud. During the investigation it was revealed he bribed a VA Contracting Officer (CO) with more than $286,000 in cash so he could defraud VA of more than $13 million between 2003 and 2017. The defendant was required to pay 60 percent of the collected parking revenue to VA. The person instead paid bribes to the CO. The bribes continued even after the CO retired from VA. The defendant and his wife agreed to forfeit three homes in Southern California, valued at $7.5 million, numerous high-end collectible cars including several classic Corvettes and three Ferrari’s, a racing boat and over $1.2 million.
  • The owners of a trucking school were charged with conspiracy, grand theft, identity theft, forgery, false and fraudulent claims, preparing false evidence and engaging in criminal profiteering activity. The charges were for enrolling at least 108 veterans who never attended or received training at the school. 33 of these veterans were also charged with conspiracy, grand theft and false and fraudulent claims.Between 2001 and 2015 more than $4.3 million was taken from the VA.

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