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Veteran lied about having a disorder to scam the VA out of over $500,000, feds say

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

A U.S. Army veteran lied about having a disorder and exaggerated his symptoms to scam the Department of Veterans Affairs out of disability benefits, according to federal authorities.

Now Bruce Hay, of Greeley, Kansas, has been sentenced to 37 months in federal prison, according to a Dec. 13 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas. The 54-year-old man is also ordered to pay over $537,000 in restitution.

Hay was convicted by a federal grand jury in August of six counts of wire fraud and 10 counts of theft of government funds, authorities said.

His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on Dec. 14.

In court documents, prosecutors said Hay pretended to have “conversion disorder with major depressive disorder, generalized choreiform movement disorder, weakness in left lower leg associated with conversion disorder (and) weakness in right lower leg associated with conversion disorder.”

He then claimed he was entitled for monthly benefits compensation, authorities said.

Conversion disorder is a condition where a mental health issue disrupts how your brain works,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. “This causes real, physical symptoms that a person can’t control.”

Symptoms can include seizures, paralysis and weakness, experts said.

“It’s important to know that conversion disorder is a real mental health condition. It’s not faking or attention-seeking,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. “It isn’t just something in a person’s head or that they’ve imagined. While it’s a mental health condition, the physical symptoms are still real. A person with conversion disorder can’t control the symptoms just by trying or thinking about it.”

But in Hay’s case, authorities said he had a “purported conversion disorder diagnosis” and exaggerated his symptoms.

“Misrepresenting symptoms to the VA to fraudulently obtain benefits takes resources from deserving veterans and will not be tolerated,” Special Agent in Charge Gregory Billingsley with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office said in the release. “The VA OIG will continue to vigorously investigate those who would steal from VA benefits programs and taxpayers.”

Greeley is about 65 miles southwest of Kansas City.


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