Woodstock Man Admits Posing as Deceased Sister to Steal VA Benefits
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JOHN DEPPERT, 64, of Woodstock, pleaded guilty today in Hartford federal court to one count of theft of government property related to a scheme to steal benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the “VA”).
According to court documents and statements made in court, Deppert’s sister received disability compensation benefits from the VA through a direct deposit to her bank account. After Deppert’s sister died in January 2015, Deppert had access to her sister’s bank account, which continued to receive regular deposits of VA benefits.
In September 2017, the VA identified that Deppert’s sister had died and terminated the benefits payments. In October 2017, Deppert called the VA and, posing as his sister, explained that “she” was not deceased. As a result, the VA reinitiated the benefits payments to the bank account, and also issued a back payment of benefits.
In April 2018, after the VA again identified that Deppert’s sister had died, a VA employee contacted the telephone number it had for Deppert’s sister. Deppert, again posing as his sister, answered the call, provided his sister’s date of birth and social security number, and stated that “she” was alive.
In May 2018, Deppert, posing as his sister, left a message on a VA employee’s voicemail system requesting that all future contact be by fax or email. He subsequently sent a fax with a change of address form attached to the VA. The coversheet for the fax stated: “I am alive and living in Woodstock Valley, CT!” Deppert signed his sister’s name on the coversheet.
Through this scheme, Deppert stole $77,292.
Deppert is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Vanessa L. Bryant on July 24, 2019, at which time Deppert faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
Deppert is released on a $50,000 bond pending sentencing.
This matter is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah P. Karwan.