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veteran pleads guilty to lying to the department of veterans affairs and the social security administration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 30, 2012

Raleigh, North Carolina - United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court on October 29, 2012, before Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever, ANTHONY PATRICK STANFORD, of Fayetteville, NC, pled guilty to a Criminal Information charging him with Making Material False Statements to the Department of Veterans Affairs, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, and Making Material False Statements to the Social Security Administration, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.

Of this matter, the U.S. Attorney, Thomas G. Walker stated, “It is no secret that the benefits set aside for our servicemen and women, and for those in need of help from Social Security, are a precious commodity.  They are safety nets for those most in need.  This case is an important reminder that this office will aggressively pursue those who violate that system of safety nets.”

The Criminal Information for this case charges that STANFORD served in the United States Army from February 1, 1996 to June 30, 2005.  Upon completion of basic training, STANFORD was assigned as a laundry specialist, but was also engaged in marching, running and field activities, until 1999.  Between 1999 and 2002, STANFORD had various surgeries on his ankles and wrists for pain relief, and was ultimately prescribed a mechanical wheelchair.  In December of 2005, STANFORD underwent a joint evaluation with a physician from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  During the evaluation, STANFORD made various representations, including that he was unable to stand, walk, lift, or hold objects.  STANFORD further represented that he was able to feed himself occasionally, however for most of his daily living activities, including feeding, dressing, bathing, and using the toilet, he required help from another person.  Based upon STANFORD’s representations to the VA physician, the VA found that STANFORD had suffered a 100% loss of both of his upper and lower extremities.

The Criminal Information further alleges that based upon STANFORD’s representations, the VA found that STANFORD qualified for various forms of financial assistance from the VA, including “aid and attendance” benefits, automobile and adaptive equipment benefits, and specially adapted housing benefits.  Among other benefits, STANFORD began to receive monthly compensation in excess of $7,000 in connection with his alleged losses.  STANFORD received these benefits during the period between 2005 and 2012.  In addition to his application for benefits with the VA, STANFORD also applied for disability benefits with the United States Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Criminal Information alleges that although STANFORD collected monthly compensation payments and other benefits from the VA and the SSA under the pretense of a complete loss of use of his upper and lower extremities, STANFORD could, in fact, use his upper and lower extremities.  With the exception of limited periods of recovery following surgeries, STANFORD did not require assistance to feed himself, dress himself, bathe himself, or to use the toilet.  STANFORD was not wheelchair bound, and in fact, could walk and drive a car.  STANFORD also had the ability to pick up and carry objects, and to carry on meaningful physical labor.

The Criminal Information alleges that on or about March 16, 2011, STANFORD presented to a VA physician for a continuing evaluation of his physical condition.  During the evaluation STANFORD falsely represented that he required help from another person for feeding, bathing, and use of the toilet.  Additionally, on October 4, 2011, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, STANFORD presented himself before representatives of the SSA for a continuing disability review.  During the course of the review, STANFORD falsely represented that he could not dress, bathe, take medicine, prepare meals, do chores, shop, walk, stand, or lift objects over two pounds, without assistance from another person.  STANFORD subsequently admitted to these falsehoods and indicated that he exaggerated his conditions in connection with both reviews because if he had told the truth then his benefits would have been terminated.

The sentencing in this case has been scheduled for February 2013 in Raleigh.  At sentencing, the defendant faces up to 5 years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines.  The defendant also faces 3 years of supervised release, $200 in special assessments, and mandatory restitution to the VA and SSA.

Investigation of this case was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General.  Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represents the United States.

 

 

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