In a bizarre case, a Charleston man who never served in the military has been arrested after he scammed the VA for nearly $200,000 in medical benefits by claiming he fought in Vietnam and was awarded two Purple Hearts.
And this isn’t the first time that he’s been caught doing so according to federal prosecutors and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Keith Hudson, 70, pleaded guilty to health care fraud in U.S. District Court this week. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the scam, which marked the second time authorities said he has posed as a U.S. Navy veteran for benefits.
Hudson was suspected of carrying out a similar scheme in Connecticut where he received medical care at VA facilities from 2003 until authorities caught on about two years later, according to federal court records. He was placed in a pretrial diversion program.
In the latest case, Hudson received more than $197,000 in benefits after applying to the VA in Charleston in 2015.
Prosecutors said he went as far as to make up the name of a medal he claimed he received.
An investigation by the Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General revealed Hudson submitted a forged Department of Defense separation from active duty document — the same falsified form that he used in the Connecticut case.
He said he saw combat as a medic and suffered wounds and other trauma when he served from August 1967 through October 1971. Hudson said he received two Purple Heart medals but the citation on the document was inaccurate.
The form also claimed Hudson received the Fleet Marine Force Medal with Marine Device, but no such medal exists. He said he received a Combat Medical Badge, but that award is only given for service in the U.S. Army.
The document had a stamp from the Alaska State Defense Force, which investigators said was suspicious because the force is a volunteer group and not an official military organization.
Additionally, the typeset of the Social Security number on Hudson’s form was different than the rest of the document.
Employment and fingerprint records from the time frame Hudson said he was in the Navy showed he worked a variety of jobs in New York and Maine.
With the massive influx of veterans having fought in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and other places, the number of fraudulent VA claims is skyrocketing. In just a six-month period of 2017, federal authorities have made over 80 arrests and recovered $2.9 million dollars in fines, restitution, and penalties for fraudulent VA claims.
Those numbers are more than double what was recovered 10 years ago
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