Independence Man Sentenced for Receiving Undeserved Veterans Benefits
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that an Independence, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for fraudulently receiving veterans benefits by using the stolen identity of a U.S. Navy veteran.
Eric D. Smith, 63, of Independence, was sentenced by U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to four years and three months in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Smith to pay $234,461 in restitution, which includes payments to additional agencies that were victimized by Smith when he engaged in similar criminal conduct in Maryland, Georgia and Florida.
On Feb. 3, 2016, Smith pleaded guilty to one count of violating the False Claims Act and one count of student loan fraud. Smith admitted that he assumed the identity of another person, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, from October 2012 through April 2014. Smith fraudulently obtained a VA identification card and VA health care benefits utilizing this stolen identity.
Smith fraudulently received approximately $15,459 in VA health care treatment, $12,956 in Veterans Retraining Assistance Program educational benefits and $656 in travel benefits from the Kansas City VA Medical Center.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Inspector General, Office of Investigations and the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General.