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Press Release

VA Worker Made False Document Claiming Deployment, Then Collected Active Duty Pay

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - A resident of Washington County, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of theft of government money and making a false document, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Richard A. Ward, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Ward, while a VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System employee, submitted to the VA a false and fictitious Special Order drawn on the authority of the Department of the Air Force, Pennsylvania Air National Guard 171st Air Refueling Wing. The false Special Order indicated that Ward, who is also a Pennsylvania Air National Guardsman, was deployed for active duty. The VA placed Ward in a special pay status for VA employees who are activated for military duty. The pay and benefits wrongfully obtained by Ward equaled approximately $14,164.91.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of not more than 15 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Pending sentence, the court placed Ward on bond.

Assistant United States Attorney Mary McKeen Houghton is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Police, conducted the investigation leading to the information in this case.

Updated July 14, 2015