former employee convicted of defrauding the veterans administration | USAO-SDCA
Deputy Attorneys for the United States Dylan M. Aste (619) 546-7621 and Valerie H. Chu (619) 546-6750
SUMMARY OF THE PRESS RELEASE – December 6, 2021
SAN DIEGO – Anthony Medrano, a United States Marine Corps veteran and former Veterans Administration employee, was today sentenced in federal court to eight months in custody for defrauding the Department of Veterans Affairs over more than $ 183,000.
According to his plea deal, Medrano admitted that between November 2015 and around May 2020, he submitted applications to the Veterans Administration (VA) in which he claimed to be disabled so that he could obtain compassionate care benefits. for his wife, while he was actually able to – bodied and even participate in fitness challenges and coach youth sports.
Medrano ran this program while employed by the VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration as a Veterans Services Representative, a position in which he explained benefit programs and eligibility criteria to veterans who apply. VA benefits. As a representative, Medrano’s responsibilities included settling claims, authorizing payments, and entering the data necessary to generate the award and veteran notification letter. Once the Veterans Benefits Administration clears the payment, the Veterans Benefits Administration, a separate branch of VA, administers the payment to disabled veterans who need substantial care and need help paying for that care. Using the knowledge gained from his VA job, Medrano stole $ 183,034.38 from the VA through a series of lies.
According to court documents, Medrano first lied during the medical assessment conducted to determine eligibility for the caregiver support program. Medrano lied about the need for high level assistance with daily activities (for example, dressing and undressing, personal hygiene, grooming), and he lied that he needed high level assistance with other activities (for example, planning and organization, recent memory, self-regulation). Medrano tricked the VA into granting him an aide that paid the primary caregiver – his wife – an amount equivalent to paying 40 hours per week for full-time home help.
Medrano’s lies continued for years to keep the money flowing. Medrano told VA officials that he had been unemployed since 2012 and unable to work; his caregiver “did everything” for him, including washing his back during the bath. He said he couldn’t stand for more than 5-10 minutes; and he couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds. But while Medrano was making these statements, he was employee, he was wash your back, and was often lifting weights over 20 pounds while working.
For example, immediately after a stint on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, the VA fully employed Medrano from March 2013 to February 19, 2021. Medrano also walked, jogged, and coached youth sports teams while stating that he couldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes. And just weeks after saying he couldn’t lift more than 20 pounds, Medrano posted videos of himself on Facebook participating in the “push-up challenge” doing push-ups with a 25-pound weight on his back. .
In court, prosecutor Dylan M. Aste noted that due to his position, Medrano knew the inner workings of the VA approval requirements for disability benefits and used this inside information to operate the VA system. and steal $ 183,000 from the VA and disabled veterans in need. of these benefit programs.
“This defendant has used his position to play with the system to the detriment of those with legitimate claims and taxpayers in general,” Interim US Attorney Randy Grossman said. “It is not only scandalous when an unworthy person complains of a disability. It is also a crime. And unfortunately for this accused, he will go to jail. Grossman thanked the prosecution team and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, for their excellent work on this case.
“Our country’s disabled service veterans receive a wide variety of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unfortunately, some veterans are fraudulently presenting their situation to get benefits they don’t deserve, ”said Special Agent in Charge Rebeccalynn Staples of the Veterans Office of the Western Regional Inspector General’s Office. “The BIG VA remains committed to diligently pursuing these cases in an effort to maintain the integrity of the VA programs. “
To report VA program fraud, call the VA-OIG hotline at 1-800-488-8244 or visit https://www.va.gov/oig/hotline/.
RESPONDENT File number 21cr01071-BAS
Anthony Medrano Age: 42 Spring Valley, California
SUMMARY OF EXPENSES
Theft of Government Property – Title 18, USC, Section 641
Maximum penalty: 10 years in prison and a $ 500,000 fine
United States Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General