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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 9, 2018

Pensacola Man Pleads Guilty to Stealing from the Department of Veterans Affairs

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – Richard E. Kohl, 83, of Pensacola, Florida, has pleaded guilty to theft of government funds in connection with filing false and fraudulent benefit claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”).  The guilty plea was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

Documents introduced at the time of the guilty plea reflect that, at some point prior to July 3, 1996, Kohl created and signed a fictitious Form DD-214 that falsely reported that he served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War and was discharged on December 20, 1961.  Kohl never served in any branch of the United States military.  Kohl used the false Form DD-214 as proof of his military service to obtain veterans’ benefits he was not entitled to receive.  Between February 3, 2005, and February 9, 2018, Kohl received benefit payments and services totaling approximately $219,719.39 from the VA.

“By defrauding the federal government for personal gain, Kohl stole resources needed to help real veterans,” said U.S. Attorney Canova.  “These benefits are meant for the brave men and women who have served our country.”

Monty Stokes, Special Agent in Charge, VA Office of Inspector General said, “The VA benefits fraudulently received by Mr. Kohl were intended to provide financial and health care support for veterans who honorably served in the armed forces of the United States.  This guilty plea is the result of the successful investigative and prosecutive efforts of the VA OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  These continued efforts safeguard the integrity of VA programs, and ensure that VA benefits are provided only to those who have earned them.”

Kohl faces a maximum of ten years in prison.  The sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 19, 2018.

The case was investigated by the VA Office of Inspector General – Criminal Investigations Division.  It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Ryan Love.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Contact: 
For more information, contact: Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer amy.alexander@usdoj.gov
Updated July 9, 2018