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Press Release

Barbourville Couple Sentenced for Defrauding the VA and the Social Security Administration

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A Barbourville, Ky. couple, who previously admitted to defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) and Social Security Administration (“SSA”), were sentenced on Friday, February 16, 2018.  James R. Baker was sentenced to 24 months in prison, while his wife, Debbie K. Baker, was sentenced to 8 months in prison to be followed by 8 months’ home incarceration.

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves sentenced 46-year-old James R. Baker for conspiracy to defraud the VA and conspiracy to defraud the SSA, and Debbie K. Baker, 47, for conspiracy to defraud the SSA.

Between October 13, 2006, and July 3, 2017, James Baker exaggerated various mental and physical conditions by unnecessarily using a cane, walker, or wheelchair to assist in walking, or by falsely reporting to doctors that he could not perform daily activities of living due to his physical and mental ailments, all in order to increase his compensation benefits from the VA.  James Baker’s exaggerations and falsehoods resulted in an overpayment of VA compensation benefits in the amount of $381,240.45.  As a result of his malingering, the VA also paid James Baker an additional $231,508.17 in grants for various purposes, such as special adaptive housing and home maker and home health benefits.  Additionally, he received $233,370 in SSA disability benefits, stemming from his VA disability determination.  For her part, Debbie Baker participated in creating the illusion that her husband was totally disabled, including by falsely claiming on a SSA form that Baker was unable to perform most activities independently.

Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Kim Lampkins, Special Agent in Charge for the VA Office of Inspector General; and Margaret Jackson, Special Agent in Charge for the SSA Office of Inspector General, jointly announced the sentences.  

The investigation was conducted by the VA Office of Inspector General and SSA Office of Inspector General.

Updated February 21, 2018

Financial Fraud