Thornton man pleads guilty to health care fraud scheme to defraud the Veterans Affairs
DENVER – Keith Morris, age 49, of Thornton, Colorado, pled guilty today to health care fraud and aiding and abetting in a scheme to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs, the United States Attorney’s Office and the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, announced. Morris, who pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Christine M. Arguello, is scheduled to be sentenced for his crime on July 27, 2012. The defendant was indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on April 19, 2011.
According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, in 2008, the Denver VA Medical Center was contacted by a resident of Albuquerque, NM. The resident stated he was receiving bills from his medical insurance company for visits to the Denver VA’s Medical Center. He informed the VA that while he was a U.S. Army veteran, he had never used the VA health care system, and certainly not in Denver. He believed someone had stolen his identity, and thought it may be his brother, Keith Morris.
The VA Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, initiated a criminal investigation into the allegations that Keith Morris was committing identity theft and health care fraud. The Denver VA Medical Center was contacted for information on Keith Morris. Representatives of the Medical Center stated they treated a patient using Morris’ brother’s name, social security number and date of birth.
According to the investigation, Keith Morris knowingly and willfully executed a scheme to defraud the Veteran’s Health Administration health benefit plan by assuming the identity of his brother in order to obtain health care benefits to which Keith Morris was not entitled. While using the identity of his brother, Keith Morris was seen at the Denver VA Medical Center beginning in May 2003 until around September 2009. During this time frame, he received VA health care that was valued at $148,122.52. On May 28, 2008, Keith Morris, posing as his brother, was provided surgery on his brain by the Denver VA Medical Center. This procedure alone was valued at over $98,000.
Also during that time frame, Keith Morris continually provided the Denver VA Medical Center with medical documents that he signed as his brother, with his brother’s Social Security Number and date of birth.
Keith Morris is not and has never been a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, and therefore is not and never was entitled to any health care benefits within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The person with the real identity Keith Morris was using stated that because of these issues with his brother, he now has warrants for his arrest out of Colorado, was let go from a job because of those warrants, and was unable to secure employment with a government contractor because he cannot get a security clearance.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, vigorously investigates violations of criminal law affecting VA programs and operations,” said John Brooks, Special Agent in Charge of the VA Office of Inspector General, Central Field Office. “The Office of Inspector General is committed to aggressively ferreting out this type of ID theft and holding those responsible accountable for their actions.”
Keith Morris faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division.
Keith Morris was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena.