Indictment: Claiming to be Blind, Defendant Drove to Appointments
WICHITA, KAN. – An Army veteran from Reno County has been indicted on federal charges of collecting $63,000 in benefits by pretending to be blind, U.S. attorney Tom Beall said today.
Billy J. Alumbaugh, 61, and his ex-wife, Debra K. Alumbaugh, both of Turon, Kan., are charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of theft of government funds. An indictment unsealed today alleges Alumbaugh fraudulently received a supplemental monthly pension by claiming he was legally blind and needed assistance to perform routine activities. Alumbaugh falsely claimed he was unable to drive and needed assistance with tasks such as reading medication labels, grocery shopping and going to doctor appointments.
The indictment alleges Alumbaugh made periodic trips to the Veterans Administration hospital in Wichita, where specialists were unable to identify medical reasons for his blindness. From 2009 to 2016, while he was receiving supplemental assistance, he maintained a Kansas driver’s license that did not require corrective lenses. He routinely drove his car during that time.
On October 2016 he was seen with his ex-wife arriving at the VA hospital in Wichita. She was driving and helped him out of the car and into the building. She did the same when the appointment was over. After driving a few blocks, they stopped the car and switched seats so he could drive.
If convicted, they face up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on the conspiracy charge, and up to 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the theft count. The Veterans Administration Office of Inspector General investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Anderson is prosecuting.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.