Stafford Springs Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding U.S. Veterans
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOHN J. SIMON, JR., also known as “Buzzy Simon,” 69, of Stafford Springs, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to one count of mail fraud and one count of structuring currency transactions.
According to court documents and statements made in court, from March 2009 to August 2010, SIMON, a Vietnam War veteran, engaged in a scheme to defraud four military veterans by representing that, in exchange for money, he could assist them in obtaining increased benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”). The veterans suffer from service-related disabilities and/or are chronically ill. SIMON falsely represented that the money the veterans provided to him would be used to pay for the services of an attorney or other expenses. With respect to one veteran, SIMON also falsely told him that he would assist the veteran in obtaining Social Security benefits.
SIMON did not initiate any claims for the four veterans and he did not incur any legal or other expenses on behalf of the veterans. Rather, he kept the money for his personal use.
As part of the plea agreement, SIMON has agreed that he defrauded 11 other military veterans and one non-veteran by representing that he could obtain new or increased benefits from the VA or Social Security Administration.
In total, SIMON defrauded 16 victims of approximately $525,431.
SIMON also structured approximately $36,000 in cash deposits into his bank account from October 2009 to June 2010. The funds structured were payments he had received from the fraud scheme. At the time, SIMON knew that the bank was required to issue a report for a currency transaction in excess of $10,000, and that by conducting his financial transactions in amounts less than $10,000.01, he intended to evade the transaction reporting requirements.
Federal law requires all financial institutions to file a Currency Transaction Report (“CTR”) for currency transactions that exceed $10,000. To evade the filing of a CTR, individuals will often structure their currency transactions so that no single transaction exceeds $10,000. Structuring involves the repeated depositing or withdrawal of amounts of cash less than the $10,000 limit, or the splitting of a cash transaction that exceeds $10,000 into smaller cash transactions in an effort to avoid the reporting requirements. Even if the deposited funds are derived from a legitimate means, financial transactions conducted in this manner are still in violation of federal criminal law.
SIMON was arrested on a criminal complaint on May 15, 2013.
Judge Shea scheduled sentencing for January 10, 2017, at which time SIMON faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 30 years.
SIMON has agreed that $210,085.58 that the IRS seized from his bank account in October 2010 will be used to pay restitution to the victims of his criminal conduct.
SIMON was released on bond pending sentencing.
This matter has been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter S. Jongbloed.