Shasta County Man Pleads Guilty to Defrauding the VA by Falsely Claiming He Was a Decorated Veteran
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — John Cal Howe II, 42, of Lakehead, pleaded guilty today to 23 misdemeanor counts in a scheme to obtain thousands of dollars in veterans’ benefits to which he was not entitled, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, Howe pleaded guilty to one count of theft in connection with a healthcare program, 20 counts of theft of government property, one count of making a fraudulent demand against the United States, and one count of making a fraudulent representation about the receipt of military decorations or medals.
According to the superseding information filed on January 14, 2016, between February 2012 and April 2015, Howe obtained health care benefits from the Veterans Affairs Health Benefits Program. He also obtained fraudulent travel reimbursements from the VA, and applied for a VA pension. He falsely claimed he was a decorated United States Marine Corps veteran and the recipient of three Purple Heart medals, although he had never enlisted or served in the armed forces of the United States.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. Special Assistant United States Attorney Elliot Wong is prosecuting the case.
Howe is scheduled to be sentenced on April 25, 2016, by United States Magistrate Judge Edmund F. Brennan. Howe faces a maximum statutory penalty of one year in prison, a $100,000 fine, and a one-year term of supervised release on each count. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.