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Press Release

Citrus County Man Arrested For Receiving Stolen Benefit Payments From The Department Of Veterans Affairs

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Ocala, Florida – United States Attorney Roger B. Handberg announces the return of an indictment charging Robert Howard Lawrence II (55, Citrus County) with one count of receiving stolen government property. If convicted, Lawrence faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and the forfeiture of at least $364,000.

According to court records, the Veterans Affairs (“VA”) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (“DIC”) program furnishes a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of deceased military service members. If the surviving spouse remarries, however, they are no longer eligible to receive DIC benefits. Lawrence was a surviving spouse of a military service member who died in 1994. Lawrence remarried in November 1995. Beginning in November 1995, and continuing through approximately April 1, 2023, Lawrence received DIC benefits to which he was not entitled because he repeatedly told the VA that he had not remarried. In fact, Lawrence had remarried twice – once in 1995 and again in 2023. By failing to report his subsequent marriages, Lawrence illegally received a total of $364,497.80 in stolen VA DIC benefit payments.

An indictment is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a federal criminal offense. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

This case is being investigated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Hannah Nowalk.

Updated April 27, 2023

Financial Fraud