Sunday, November 4, 2018

Couple stole $316K in benefits meant for disabled Army vet, feds say

A Perry County man who was appointed to protect the interest of a disabled Army veteran stole more than $316,000 from the vet instead, federal prosecutors claim.

Jason Ehrhart already has a tentative deal to plead guilty for the alleged fraud, records filed in U.S. Middle District Court show.

Charges filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel state that Ehrhart was appointed as legal custodian for the veteran in 2006, about 11 years after the man was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

By the time of Ehrhart's appointment, the vet was bedridden in the VA hospital in Lebanon. When Ehrhart signed the agreement to act as the vet's representative, he was warned "that the funds were not for Jason's personal use," the charges state.

Ehrhart and his wife Laurie nevertheless lied about how the vet's Social Security and VA benefits were being used, investigators contend.

The couple wrote themselves checks on that money, the feds claim, deposited $157,742 in their personal checking account, gave money to friends, bought cars, paid for Laurie's dental work and financed two vacations to Disney World.

At the same time, they didn't pay the mortgages on the homes of the vet and the vet's mother and allowed the properties to be seized through foreclosures, court filings state. They also refused to pay for repairs to the vet's wheelchair-accessible van after it broke down along a Perry County road.

The Ehrharts submitted false reports to cover the fraud, the feds claim. In all they are accused of stealing $316,360 of the $476,260 in federal benefits that were supposed to go to the disabled vet between 2006 and Jason Ehrhart's removal as the man's representative in 2016.

The tentative plea agreement calls for Jason Ehrhart to plead guilty to a health care fraud charge that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He has no deal for a specific sentence and must agree to make full restitution.

That agreement won't be final unless it is approved by Chief Judge Christopher C. Conner.

Laurie Ehrhart also is charged in the case. She entered a not guilty plea to fraud and conspiracy counts before Judge John E. Jones III on Monday.

Full Article & Source:
Couple stole $316K in benefits meant for disabled Army vet, feds say

1 comment:

Charlie Lyons said...

A Vet? They'd steal from a VET? That's the lowest of the low.