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NY veteran faces 5 years in prison for lying about PTSD to collect VA benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs Building. (JeffOnWire/Flickr)
October 27, 2018

Lying paid off for one New York veteran who falsely received more than $92,000 in VA Disability Benefits, but he now faces five years in prison.

Michael Pecka, 33, applied for VA benefits in 2011 claiming that he had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which would make him eligible for disability, ABC 13 reported. Pecka said that the PTSD was a result of witnessing two suicides of fellow soldiers while he was deployed to Kuwait.

Pecka stated that the suicides took place while he was with the Army Reserve in 2004-2005.

The office of U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. discovered that Pecka was deceitful after investigators from the Department of Veterans Affairs said he “lied about being present for either suicide, lied about observing either suicide, lied about being involved in the investigation of either suicide, and in the case of one of the soldiers, was not even in the same country at the time he committed suicide.”

In fact, Pecka was incarcerated in a federal prison for bank fraud when he made his first VA claim for benefits.

He then continued to use the lie as a foundation for his plea for benefits in 2011 and again in 2014.

The claims of PTSD gave Pecka a higher disability rating, which is how he was able to collect such a large sum of tax-free benefits. As a result, Pecka received over $92,000 in benefits that he didn’t qualify for.

Pecka will be sentenced in Jan. 2019 and could get five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.

Earlier this month, a former Marine was arrested for submitting falsified medical claims to get VA disability benefits, 7 News Miami reported.

Adolfo Barros, who served as a cook on the USS Ashland in 2005, claimed that after his ship was the target of a missile, he suffered a concussion.

According to prosecutors, the ship was never hit by any missiles.

Barros and his brother plead guilty to receiving $116,590 in VA money that they were not entitled to.

Their sentencing is set for December and the brothers face up to ten years in prison for their crimes.