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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 19, 2016

Army Deserter Charged For Receiving Veteran Benefits Based On Fraudulent Service-Connected Disabilities

Defendant Allegedly Lied About Being Wounded in Combat and Receiving Distinguished Service Medals and Honors

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that Roy Lee Ross, Jr., a.k.a. Daniel Alfred Sullivan, Jr, 64, of Morganton, N.C., is facing multiple federal charges for defrauding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) by receiving veteran benefits based on fraudulent service-connected disabilities. 

Kim Lampkins, Special Agent in Charge of the Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Washington, D.C., of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), joins U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.

According to allegations contained in the federal indictment, Ross enlisted in the United States Army (the Army) in September 1973 under his true name.  While in the Army, the defendant was stationed in the United States and in West Germany, but never served in Vietnam or Korea, was not in the Special Forces, and never sustained any service-connected injuries.  The indictment alleges that while stationed in Hawaii in 1978, the defendant was determined to be Absent Without Leave (AWOL), and a “Deserter Verification” was issued for him.  Ross was later apprehended and eventually requested to be discharged rather than undergo a court-martial.  Ross’s official Department of Defense form known as “DD Form 214” or “Report of Separation,” indicates that the defendant was discharged “Under Conditions Other Than Honorable.”

According to allegations contained in the indictment, at least by June 2007, Ross began to falsely represent himself to the Charles George VA Medical Center (the VAMC) in Asheville, as a U.S. Army veteran named “Daniel Alfred Sullivan, Jr.”  The indictment alleges that the defendant claimed that he had served in the Special Forces, that he had been wounded in combat, and that he had been honorably discharged from the Army.  The indictment further alleges that Ross claimed he was suffering from nightmares caused by his wartime service and his combat-related injuries.  As a result of his misrepresentations, in 2007, Ross was diagnosed with suffering from service related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and began receiving health benefits from the VA. 

The indictment alleges that in 2012, based on the PTSD diagnosis and other multiple false statements regarding his military service, including his fictitious injuries, honors and medals received, Ross filed for, and was granted, disability-based compensation at a rate of 60%, he was given a retroactive lump sum of $18,349 and began receiving a monthly tax-free compensation of $1,026.  Then, in 2014, the defendant filed a second claim for “increased evaluation” seeking additional disability-based compensation.  The indictment alleges that Ross, still using the name Sullivan, claimed he had been shot in the neck during combat, and that he was suffering from physical pain due to his service-connected injury.  As a result of Ross’s false statements and accounts, his disability rating was increased, reflecting an increase in his monthly tax-free compensation to $1,743.48.  Then in 2015, still falsely claiming to be Daniel Sullivan, the defendant filed a third claim for “increased evaluation,” claiming that he was suffering from cervical (neck) impairment and pain, due to his injuries while on active duty.   The defendant was eventually granted his claim, and Ross received a $3,490.95 back payment award and his monthly disability payment was increased to $2,906.83.

The indictment alleges that in addition to his disability benefits, the defendant received approximately $57,000 in health care benefits from the VA, to which he was not lawfully entitled.  The defendant also defrauded the VA’s Beneficiary Travel Program, after filing claims for mileage reimbursement in connection with his medical appointments.  Lastly, the indictment alleges that Ross defrauded the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program (VRAP), by receiving $10,218.14 in VRAP payments.  The VRAP program offers up to 12 months of training assistance at a VA-approved educational program and it is available to unemployed veterans who meet certain criteria.  

“The actions of the defendant are contrary to the code of military conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.  “As alleged in the indictment, Ross received thousands of dollars in VA benefits based on lies and a fabricated military career.  Ross allegedly conjured up stories about fighting in multiple wars and receiving the Purple Heart, a distinguished medal presented to our country’s bravest wounded in combat.  Now, the scheme has been exposed and Ross, a disgraced deserter, must answer for his actions in a federal court.”

The federal criminal indictment charges Ross with one count of executing a scheme to defraud a health benefit organization (the VA), which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and two counts of making false statements in connection with the delivery of health care benefits by the VA, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He is also charged with two counts of stealing from the VA, a charge that levies a potential maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine, and one count of a making false claim for travel benefits from the VA, which carries a potential maximum prison term of five years and a $250,000 fine. 

The charges contained in the indictment are allegations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the VA-OIG for their investigation of the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Edwards of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is in charge of the prosecution.

Updated August 19, 2016