By Freddy Groves
The authorities are making headway in nailing individuals who steal from the Department of Veterans Affairs — and ultimately from veterans.
Here are some of the top stories: —A man in Tennessee has been arrested for fabricating and selling phony documents. He created military award certificates, honorable discharge paperwork and replacement documents, down to the actual agency seals used. In some cases he made up names of the document signers; in others he duplicated the signature. He collected a cool $200,000 for making these reproductions of military documents. Not only was he selling to veterans who’d genuinely earned their awards and only needed replacement documentation, but he sold to the phonies, too. Sentencing will be this summer.
—Another pair pleaded guilty after cooking up a scheme that involved staffing at one of the VA’s outpatient pharmacies — to the tune of $8 million over seven years. It involved use of a Small Business Administration certification and illegal gratuities.
—In Missouri, a man was found guilty of accepting gratuities from contractors for sending $3.4 million worth of VA work their way. Others in the scam were nailed for creating a fake company that was supposed to be owned by a disabled veteran.
—In South Carolina a woman was nabbed for collecting more than $37,000 in veterans survivor funds. She’d claimed benefits after marrying a veteran who then passed away. She neglected to notify the VA that she had separated from the veteran before his death and later remarried (when the benefits should have stopped), and even went on to claim educational benefits years afterward. What’s especially encouraging is that all of these happened this year. The sum total just on these cases alone is $11 million plus.
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(c) 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.