Federal Jury Convicts Jacksonville Man Of Stealing Veterans’ Disability Benefits
Jacksonville, Florida – A federal jury today found Jose Calderon-Fuentes (63, Jacksonville) guilty of theft of government property. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 26, 2018. Calderon-Fuentes was indicted on July 13, 2017.
According to evidence presented at trial, in July 2000, Calderon-Fuentes was designated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as 100% disabled for bilateral blindness. He collected disability benefits in the years that followed, eventually receiving more than $4,000 per month. Federal agents opened an investigation when they learned that Calderon-Fuentes had a Florida drivers license. They then developed evidence that Calderon-Fuentes was exaggerating his disability claim, including recordings of him doing yard work, washing his truck, and driving. After Calderon-Fuentes learned that he was under investigation in Florida, he obtained another drivers license in Puerto Rico. As part of the application process for that license, he submitted a medical certificate that stated he had 20/50 vision.
This case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael J. Coolican.