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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 12, 2015

Holland Couple Indicted In Connection With Fraudulent Receipt Of Veterans’ Benefits And Workers Compensation

CONTACT:        Barbara Burns              
PHONE:           (716) 843-5817
FAX:              (716) 551-3051
     

BUFFALO, N.Y.-- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that a federal grand jury has returned a three-count indictment charging Richard Klaffka, 57, and his wife, Cathleen Klaffka, 61, both of Holland, NY, with fraud in connection with Richard Klaffka’s receipt of over $1,000,000 in benefits from the Veterans’ Administration and Workers’ Compensation under false pretenses. The Klaffkas are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud and wire fraud and mail fraud. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.

        Assistant U.S. Attorney John E. Rogowski, who is handling the case, stated that according to the indictment, in 2006, Richard Klaffka told the Veteran Administration that, due to an injury connected with his military service in 1978, he was disabled, confined to a wheelchair and unable to engage everyday activities like walking, driving and dressing himself. The indictment further alleges that to promote the fraud, Cathleen Klaffka pushed Richard Klaffka in a wheelchair when at the VA hospital in order to support Richard Klaffka’s false claim that he was confined to wheelchair when, in fact, they both knew Richard Klaffka was able to walk without assistance and engaged in physical activities such as hiking, riding a bike and pitching iron horseshoes.

        The indictment also alleges that in order to get Workers’ Compensation benefits from his employment with the United States Postal Service, the defendant falsely claimed that his mobility was limited due to a work injury and that he was only able to walk with the assistance of a cane. According to the indictment, the Klaffkas received over $1,000,000 in government benefits to which they were not entitled. The investigation was triggered by an anonymous call to a fraud hotline.

        The indictment is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the United States Veterans Administration, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Jeffrey Hughes, the Veterans Administration Police Department, under the direction of Chief Jeremy Novak, the United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Cheryl Garcia, and the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Monica Weyler, Special Agent in Charge, Eastern Area Field Office.

        The defendants will be arraigned on March 20, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder, Jr.

        The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Updated March 16, 2015