Former Official Of Maryland Department Of Veterans Affairs Admits To Fraudulently Obtaining Over $1.4 Million In Benefits
Eight Other Veterans Have Admitted to Paying U.S. Army Veteran David Clark
Cash to Fraudulently Obtain Veteran Benefits
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. Army veteran David Clark, age 67, of Hydes, Maryland, the former Deputy Chief of Veterans Claims in the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, pleaded guilty today to extortion in connection with a scheme to fraudulently obtain over $1.4 million in veterans benefits.
The plea agreement was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Kim R. Lampkins of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General.
In January 2011, Clark retired from the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) as the Deputy Chief for Veterans Claims. Clark’s duties included submitting claims and documentation on behalf of veterans in Maryland who appointed the MDVA to represent them in obtaining federal benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Clark also submitted documents to the Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) in support of veterans’ applications for property tax waivers.
According to his plea agreement, while serving at Deputy Chief of Claims, Clark fraudulently obtained VA compensation for himself and at least 17 others, by submitting false documents to the VA purporting to show that the claimants had been diagnosed with diabetes, and in some cases that the claimant had served in Vietnam when they had not. The claimants paid Clark half of the retroactive lump sum payment they received in cash, or some other amount of cash. These payments to Clark were made in unmarked envelopes, at MDVA offices in Bel Air, Maryland; at the Fallon Federal Building in Baltimore; and at other locations.
In support of these claims, Clark submitted fake letters from doctors purportedly treating the veterans, which falsely stated that the claimants suffered from Type II diabetes. Clark used the names and addresses of real doctors who were unaware of his conduct. Each letter stated that the diagnosis of Type II diabetes had been made a year or more prior to the date of the letter, which entitled each claimant to a retroactive lump-sum payment. The letters also stated that the claimants were currently taking insulin, which increased the amount of compensation the VA paid the claimant.
Clark created counterfeit versions of a Defense Department form for himself and five others, which falsely stated that each had served in Vietnam. These forms also falsely stated that these individuals had received various awards and decorations for the Vietnam service, including that Clark himself had been awarded the Purple Heart Medal. These documents were submitted to the VA to provide false evidence that they qualified for compensation benefits for diabetes.
Clark also submitted false certifications to the SDAT, on behalf of claimants that owned homes in Maryland, that the filers were entitled to a property tax waiver due to a service-connected disability.
The total loss to the government caused by false submissions to the VA is $1,151,219 and the loss from the property tax evasion is $255,555, for a total loss of $1,407,134.
Clark faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Clark has agreed to forfeit $1,407,134. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for November 17, 2014 at 9:15 a.m.
Eight other veterans have previously pleaded guilty to paying Clark cash to submit false documentation to receive VA benefits:
John Bratcher, age 56, of Conowingo, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force;
Richard Genco, age 71, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy;
Paul Heard, age 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Navy;
George Kulla, age 68, of Dillwyn, Virginia, a veteran of the U.S. Army;
Sandra Tyree, age 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former employee
of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs;
Kenneth Webster, age 68, of Pasadena, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a former police officer with AMTRAK;
Raymond Sadler, age 63, of Middle River, Maryland, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Kenneth Williams, age 65, of Baltimore, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama=s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys= offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants. For more information on the task force, visit www.stopfraud.gov.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the VA Office of Inspector General for its work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein praised Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise, who is prosecuting the case.