Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Stolen Valor Perpetrators Found Guilty and Despicable!

Army veteran sentenced for lying to get nearly $395K from VA
News4Jax
By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
May 02, 2017

Florida woman claimed she lost her vision due to her military service

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida veteran is sentenced to federal prison for lying for years about being blind and collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sixty-year-old Veronica Dale Hahn of Bonifay, Florida, received nearly $395,000 from VA for 100 percent service-connected blindness in both eyes. Over 15 years -- from 2001 to 2016 -- the Army veteran told doctors she was almost completely blind.

However, within a year of receiving her disability benefits for loss of vision, investigators say Hahn got driver’s licenses with no vision restrictions in New Mexico, Alabama, and Florida -- passing vision exams in all three states with at least 20/40 vision.

During this time, Hahn was observed driving her personal vehicle on numerous occasions and she worked full time as a case manager and transition counselor at several state correctional facilities. All of these activities required normal eyesight to perform her duties.

“Instead of providing benefits and assistance to worthy veterans who are justifiably in need, significant resources from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs were diverted to uncover an extensive and persistent fraud by Ms. Hahn, who repeatedly gave dishonest information and collected hundreds of thousands of dollars to which she was not entitled," said Christopher Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida. This case sends the message that you cannot make false disability claims and just walk away from such a crime.”
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Purple Heart faker gets VA benefits, free house by stealing another Marine's combat story
San Diego Union Tribune
Jeanette Steele Jeanette SteeleContact Reporter
May 2, 2017
“This scumbag lied to try to get s—t. You don’t do that. It’s not honorable. It’s not how we are. It’s personal for me, especially, as a friend of Casey’s,” said Andrew Rothman, a 1/7 Navy corpsman who was a key player in exposing Blackstone’s fraud.

A former Southern California Marine has been handed a 21-month federal sentence for faking a Purple Heart and lifting from another Marine's combat story to get years of disability benefits and a free house.

In a rare prosecution under the 2013 Stolen Valor Act, a 35-year-old Iraq War veteran will also have to pay back more than $300,000 to the U.S. government and a Texas charity.

Brandon Blackstone served with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment out of Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert in 2004. He deployed to Iraq in August, during a period of fierce fighting on the Syrian border.

So did Casey Owens, another 1/7 Marine.
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Former officer found guilty in Purple Heart case
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Raisa Habersham
May 2, 2017

A former Holly Springs police officer was found guilty Tuesday of falsely claiming he was a Purple Heart recipient four years after an investigation showed he lied about his military affiliation.

Shane Ladner of Canton was accused of claiming he earned the medal awarded for combat wounds and using the alleged honor to receive free license plates.

After five days of testimony and 13 hours of deliberation, the jury convicted him of five counts of making false statements to the Cherokee County sheriff’s office and the county’s tax commissioner to get the license plates. He was also convicted of a theft by taking charge.
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Colden couple admit $1.2 million fraud against VA, Postal Service
Buffalo News
By Phil Fairbanks
Published Wed, Mar 22, 2017

Richard L. Klaffka posed as a severely disabled veteran and postal worker.

He also pretended to be in a wheelchair, unable to walk, drive or care for himself.

Klaffka and his wife, Cathleen, both residents of Colden, admitted Wednesday it was all a hoax.

They also admitted netting $1.2 million in fraudulent benefits as part of their 10-year scheme.

'The defendant knew he wasn't 100 percent disabled and, in fact, knew he was mobile, able to care for himself without assistance," Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul E. Bonanno told the federal court Wednesday.

As part of his guilty plea to wire fraud, Klaffka agreed to pay $1.2 million in restitution and on Wednesday made an initial payment of $325,000. He also agreed to forfeit property he and his wife own in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

With Klaffka, who walks with a cane, standing just a few feet away, Bonanno read from a laundry list of evidence against him, including surveillance of his comings and goings at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Buffalo.

Federal agents claim they saw Klaffka drive to the VA, get out of the car and then lift and open his wheelchair without help. They said his wife would then push him into the offices at the medical center.

Bonnano said the government also had witnesses, including neighbors who were prepared to testify that they saw Klaffka hunting, riding a bicycle, chopping wood and playing horseshoes.
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