Maryland US Army Veteran Charged on False Allegation of Paraplegia for Receiving More than $ 1 Million in Government Disability Benefits | USAO-MD

0


Baltimore, Maryland – A state criminal complaint alleges that William Rich, 41, of Windsor Mill, Maryland, fraudulently received more than $ 1 million in veteran’s disability and social security disability benefits by falsely claiming he was paraplegic . The criminal complaint was filed on October 12, 2021 and unsealed after Rich’s arrest yesterday.

The federal indictment was announced by the Maryland District Attorney Erek L. Barron; United States Department of Veterans (VA) Inspector General Kim R. Lampkins, Special Representative, Mid Atlantic Field Office, Washington, DC; and Special Agent in Charge Michael McGill of the Social Security Administration – Office of Inspector General, Philadelphia Field Division (SSA).

The criminal complaint alleges that Rich misrepresented his physical condition in claims for compensation with VA, communicating with VA, and during medical examinations in the pursuit of VA disability benefits by claiming he was paralyzed and not in able to go. As a result, Rich allegedly received more than approximately $ 800,000 in VA benefits that he was not entitled to, including disability benefits, special cash and nursing benefits, and medical care and medical device grants. In addition, the criminal complaint alleges that Rich received more than $ 240,000 in disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Agency (SSA).

According to the criminal complaint, Rich served in the US Army from September 22, 1998 through February 27, 2007 and suffered injuries on August 23, 2005 while serving in Baqubah, Iraq. As a result of these injuries, Rich was rated 100 percent disabled by the VA in 2007 due to “loss of use of both lower extremities …”. an illness or injury suffered or worsened during active military service. The amount of disability allowance a veteran receives is equal to his service-related disability score. Rich also received a special monthly allowance for paraplegia and grants for a caregiver. Rich has also received SSA disability insurance payments.

As described in the criminal complaint, about six weeks after Rich’s injuries, Rich had made significant progress toward recovery and was no longer paralyzed. Specifically, a report from Rich’s annual physical exam dated Oct. 7, 2005 found that an MRI on Aug. [spinal] Cable impact “or”[spinal] Umbilical Cord Anomalies ”and noted that Richs“… the paralysis has subsided somewhat and he is currently able to move his lower extremities. ”A subsequent report dated December 5, 2006 showed that Rich was able to perform certain essential daily activities with“ complete independence “Or” modified independence “, such as B. using the toilet and “getting around”.

However, the affidavit of later records documenting a subsequent examination on October 11, 2007 states: “Since his accident, he has been paralyzed on both lower extremities; is confined to a wheelchair… ”The examining doctor, who found that he had no access to Rich’s complete claims file and therefore did not review Rich’s medical history or observe the earlier report, did not order an X-ray and said he“ felt that it wasn’t like that ”. Worth the trauma to tamper with. ”As a result of this examination, Rich was permanently disabled by VA.

In 2018, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review of certain claims and learned of Rich’s behavior that was inconsistent with his alleged condition. VA OIG opened an investigation into possible fraud in Rich’s VA benefit entitlement. According to the affidavit, VA OIG Special Agents (SAs) conducted surveillance for the next two years, watching Rich walk, walk up and down stairs, get in and out of vehicles, lift, bend and carry items – all with no visible restriction or assistance a medical device, including a wheelchair.

The affidavit further claims that during their surveillance, the only time officers observed Rich using a wheelchair was in connection with medical appointments in the VA. In particular, VA OIG SAs reportedly observed on five occasions between March 2019 and February 2021 how Rich either loaded his wheelchair into the trunk of his car before or after seeing a doctor, used a wheelchair at VA appointments, or obtained a doctor’s appointment from a VA load his car and then his wheelchair into the car.

According to the affidavit, a review of Rich’s publicly available social media accounts revealed several pictures of Rich standing with no indication that he was confined to a wheelchair, as well as one picture Rich took of himself as he was in one Gym stands in front of a mirror, as well as videos of rich lifting weights.

In addition to the monthly benefits Rich received from the VA, Rich has also received a sworn affidavit from the VA for “Automobiles and Adaptive Equipment” and “Customized Housing.” In particular, the affidavit alleges that Rich used the funds allocated to purchase a specially converted vehicle to purchase a luxury BMW 645ci sports coupe.

If convicted, Rich faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for stealing government property. Actual penalties for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine each sentence based on U.S. sentencing guidelines and other legal factors. On October 13, 2021, Rich had a first appearance in the U.S. District Court in Baltimore and was asked to be released pending trial.

A criminal complaint is not an admission of guilt. A person charged by a criminal complaint is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in subsequent criminal proceedings.

US Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the VA OIG and the SSA Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked U.S. Attorney General Michael Davio’s special assistant who is prosecuting the federal case.

For more information about the Maryland US Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and available community support resources, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.

# # #


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.