PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Veronica Dale Hahn, 60, of Bonifay, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 9 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $394,800.85 in restitution, after pleading guilty to theft of government funds on the second day of her trial in January. The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
During the first two days of trial, the government presented evidence that, between November 2001 and February 2016, Hahn received $394,800.85 from the Department of Veterans Affairs in disability payments for 100% service-connected blindness in both eyes. Over the course of a decade and a half, Hahn told various doctors within the Veterans Health Administration and in private practice that she was almost completely blind. However, within a year of receiving her disability benefits for loss of vision, she obtained driver’s licenses in New Mexico, Alabama, and Florida with no vision restrictions, after passing vision exams in each state with at least 20/40 vision. During this time, Hahn was also observed driving her personal automobile on numerous occasions. Further, she worked full time as a case manager and transition counselor at several state correctional facilities. All of these activities required normal eyesight to perform her duties.
United States Attorney Canova said: “Instead of providing benefits and assistance to worthy veterans who are justifiably in need, significant resources from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs were diverted to uncover an extensive and persistent fraud by Ms. Hahn, who repeatedly gave dishonest information and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars to which she was not entitled. This case sends the message that you cannot make false disability claims and just walk away from such a crime.”
Special Agent in Charge Monty Stokes, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General – Southeast Field Office, said that this sentencing was the result of a successful multi-year investigation. “VA Disability Compensation Benefits are intended to provide for veterans with injuries or diseases related to their military service. Because of the successful investigative and prosecutive efforts of the VA OIG and the U.S. Attorney's Office, Veronica Hahn’s greed and deception will not go unchecked.”
The case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of the Inspector General. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. Thielemann and Michael J. Frank.
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.
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