Geneseo Man Indicted on Charges of Theft of Government Funds and Making False Statements Related to Military Service
Rock Island, Ill. –A Geneseo, Ill., man, William R. Jones, appeared in federal court this afternoon charged with theft of government funds and making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to support payment of disability benefits. U.S. District Judge Sara Darrow set the case for trial on Aug. 1, 2016. The indictment, returned in May by the grand jury, remained sealed pending Jones’ surrender for today’s scheduled court appearance. Judge Darrow ordered that Jones be released on bond with conditions of release, including surrender of Jones’ gun safe key.
The indictment alleges that Jones, 66, of the 700 block of Willow Drive, made false statements claiming that he served in Vietnam in the 1970s when in fact, Jones never served in Vietnam. According to the indictment, in July 2013, Jones submitted a form containing false information to the office of U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin to support his claim for veterans disability benefits. The form indicated that Jones had served in combat in Vietnam in 1972; that he was assigned to Special Operations in Vietnam; and that he was shot down in enemy territory and rescued three weeks later by U.S. Marines. In fact, according to the indictment, Jones never served in Vietnam.
In May 2015, on two occasions, to support his request to start veterans disability benefits on an earlier date, Jones allegedly made false statements to employees of Veterans Affairs as follows: that he had an updated military form, a fabricated document Jones allegedly drafted and procured to deceive the Department of Veterans Affairs, that reflected his combat medals; that he was assigned to 10th Special Operations in Vietnam; that he was assigned to conduct drug interdiction missions in the Golden Triangle area of Southeast Asia, and that he was wounded by shrapnel caused by a mortar round while he was a crewman on a Spectre Gunship. In fact, as Jones knew, he was never assigned to any military unit in Vietnam and never served in Vietnam.
If convicted for theft of government funds from December 2014 to December 2015 (one count), the maximum statutory penalty is 10 years in prison; for each count of making false statements (three counts), the maximum penalty is five years in prison. Both offenses carry fines of up to $250,000.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Allegro of the Rock Island Division of the Central District of Illinois. The U.S. Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General investigated the charges.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.