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MS man who stole vet’s ID and ripped off VA for $130,000 gets 3 years in prison

G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center. (Veterans Health/Flickr)
December 18, 2018

A 56-year-old Mississippi man will serve three years in prison for fraudulently using a military vet’s identity to receive VA benefits in excess of $130,000.

He will also be required to pay back the stolen funds as part of his sentence handed down on Thursday by Senior U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee, Military Times reported.

U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst said that Tierun Bush was charged with stealing money and property from the government, and aggravated identity theft.

Bush never served in the military, but devised a scheme to receive benefits at the Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson by way of identity theft.

For a 13-year period that abruptly ended this year, Bush collected a number of benefits that only a military member would be entitled to, including medication at no charge, medical care and equipment, and his housing expenses from VA by using the identifying information from a veteran who lives out of state.

Bush isn’t the only one to steal from the VA.

On Friday, a Massachusetts woman pleaded guilty to fraudulently receiving in excess of $300,000 from VA and Social Security combined for eight years, The Boston Globe reported.

When 71-year-old Joyce Progin’s father in law died back in Nov. 2009, she never notified anyone about his death.

Progin shared a bank account with her father-in-law and just continued to receive his monthly benefits. In court, she acknowledged that she was aware the money wasn’t hers to use.

The majority of the benefits that Progin received came from the VA and continued until her arrest in Jan. 2018. Progin’s sentence was time served, three years of supervised release, and full restitution in the amount of $325,245.

Last month, a man from Charleston who ripped off VA for around $200,000, received a six-month federal prison sentence followed by six months of house arrest, according to News 2.

Keith R. Hudson, 71, falsified documents to portray himself as a combat veteran.

U.S. attorney for South Carolina, Sherri Lydon said, “Evidence presented to the court showed that Hudson falsely claimed that he was entitled to VA benefits because he was a veteran who had been in combat in Vietnam. He even went so far as to claim that he had received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.”

This was the second time that Hudson received money from VA by lying about being a veteran. The first was in 2005 in Connecticut. In 2012, he relocated to Charleston and used the same information he used in Connecticut to scam the government.

“Those who defraud the VA harm all veterans.  VA benefits are intended solely for those who have protected this nation’s freedoms. We investigate individuals who commit fraud against the VA and are dedicated to defending veterans who genuinely earned our support,” Kim Lampkins, the Special Agent in Charge for the Veterans Administration Office of Investigations Criminal Investigations Division said.