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Press Release

Maryland Man Found Guilty After A Four-Day Trial Of Wire Fraud And Theft Of Government Property

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland
Defendant Pretended to be Paralyzed in order to Receive more than $750,000 in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Benefit

Baltimore, Maryland – After a four-day trial, a federal jury returned a guilty verdict convicting William Rich, age 43, of Windsor Mill, Maryland, of fraudulently obtaining more than $750,000 dollars in veteran disability benefits by falsely claiming that he was paralyzed.  Rich was convicted of five counts of wire fraud and one count of theft of government property.

The guilty verdict was announced by Erek L. Barron, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland and Kim R. Lampkins, Special Agent in Charge, Mid Atlantic Field Office, United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).

Evidence at trial established Rich intentionally misrepresented his physical condition during VA disability compensation and pension exams and in other communications with the VA in pursuit of VA disability benefits.  Rich claimed that he was paralyzed and unable to walk.  As a result, Rich received more than $750,000 in VA benefits to which he was not entitled including special monthly compensation, caregiver assistance compensation, and medical equipment.

Rich served in the United States Army from on or about September 22, 1998, to February 27, 2007, sustaining injuries on August 23, 2005, after being injured in a bombing in Baqubah, Iraq.  Rich’s injuries included temporary paralysis. Rich then applied to the VA’s disability compensation program, and according to the evidence presented at trial, approximately six weeks after Rich’s injuries, he made substantial progress toward recovery and was no longer paralyzed.  A subsequent medical report, indicated that Rich was able to perform certain essential daily activities with “complete independence” or “modified independence.”.” However, largely based on an October 11, 2007, exam, where Rich reported paralysis in his lower extremities and being confined to a wheelchair, he was granted permanent disability from VA.

In 2018, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) launched a proactive investigation of disabled veteran files and learned of conduct by Rich inconsistent with his purported physical condition.  For more than two years, VA OIG Special Agents (SAs) investigated Rich, including conducting video surveillance.  Footage presented at trial showed Rich walking, going up and down stairs, entering and exiting vehicles, lifting, bending, and carrying items—all without visible limitation or assistance of a medical device, including a wheelchair.

Throughout the course of their surveillance, the only time agents observed Rich use a wheelchair was when he attended VA medical appointments.  Between March 2019 and February 2021, VA OIG investigators observed Rich standing and loading his wheelchair into the trunk of his car before VA medical appointments, using a wheelchair at VA appointments, wheeling himself from a VA medical appointment to his car, and then standing to load his wheelchair back into his car.  A review of Rich’s publicly available social media accounts revealed multiple images of Rich standing, with no indication that he was wheelchair bound, including an image Rich took of himself standing in front of a mirror at a gym, as well as videos of Rich lifting weights.

 In addition to receiving more than $8,000 in monthly disability benefits from the VA, Rich also received grants from the VA for “Automobile and Adaptive Equipment,” and “Specially Adapted Housing.” Rich used funds intended for the purchase of a specially adapted vehicle to buy a BMW 645ci luxury sports coupe.

Rich faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count of wire fraud and a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison for theft of government property.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Federal district court judges determine sentences after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.  The date for Rich’s sentencing has not been scheduled. 

U.S. Attorney Barron thanked Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kertisha Dixon and Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen McGuinn, who prosecuted the case.  Mr. Barron also thanked former lead Special Agent, Brian Maddox, currently a Special Agent with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Patrick Prewitt, Senior Special Agent and National Fleet Manager, with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General. 

For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit and

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Angelina Thompson
(301) 344-4338

Updated June 27, 2024