While actual veterans spend years jumping through hoops to get a valid claim approved.
A Charleston man has pleaded guilty to falsely claiming he was a Vietnam War veteran and defrauding the VA hospital.
Keith Hudson, 70, received $197, 237 in benefits from the Charleston VA, claiming he was a Navy combat medic who received two purple hearts, according to first assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Crick.
An investigation showed that Hudson had previously been prosecuted for using the same scheme in Connecticut in 2005 where he had been placed a diversionary program, Crick said.
“This is a particularly awful type of white-collar crime.,” U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon said. “Veteran health benefits are for those who served our nation in the military. The VA has limited numbers of physicians and resources. There is not much to spare. Every dollar and every minute of time stolen from the VA is something that is stolen from a veteran. VA fraud is on the increase and so we are grateful for the work of the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General for their investigative work on the case.”
Hudson lied on a Department of Defense form which is given to military members who are separating from the service in which he stated that he served from Aug. 1, 1967 to Oct. 31, 1971, according to Crick.
Investigators found that Hudson’s form stated he received a combat medic badge, but that award is only given in the Army and not the Navy. He also didn’t list the proper citation for a Purple Heart, and even created a medal called the Fleet Marine Force medal that doesn’t even exist, Crick said.
Hudson was never in the military and investigators found employment documents which show he worked in New York and Maine from 1967 to 1971.
If convicted, Hudson faces up to 10 years in prison.
VA spokeswoman Tonya Lobbestael said the hospital could not comment because the case is an “ongoing legal matter.”