United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced that in federal court today Chief United States District Judge James C. Dever sentenced ANTHONY PATRICK STANFORD, 39, of Fayetteville, NC, to 24 months in prison, followed by 3 years of supervised release, upon conviction for Making Material False Statements to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001, and Making Material False Statements to the Social Security Administration (SSA), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Chief Judge Dever further ordered STANFORD to pay restitution of $519,293.07 to the VA and $7,575.30 to the SSA.
U.S. Attorney, Thomas G. Walker stated, “This case sends a strong message that those who steal the limited, taxpayer funds set aside for our servicemen and women who have suffered catastrophic injuries, will pay a steep price for their crimes. This office commends the work of the VA and SSA for their hard work to achieve justice in this case.”
STANFORD served in the United States Army from February 1, 1996 to June 30, 2005. Upon completion of basic training, STANFORD was assigned as a laundry specialist, but was also engaged in marching, running and field activities, until 1999. In December of 2005, STANFORD underwent a joint evaluation during which he made various representations, including that he was unable to stand, walk, lift, or hold objects. STANFORD further represented that for most of his daily living activities, including feeding, dressing, bathing, and using the toilet, he required help from another person.
Based upon STANFORD’s representations to the VA physician, the VA found that STANFORD had suffered a 100% loss of both of his upper and lower extremities. The VA further found that STANFORD qualified for various forms of financial assistance from the VA, including “aid and attendance” benefits, automobile and adaptive equipment benefits, and specially adapted housing benefits. Among other benefits, STANFORD began to receive monthly compensation in excess of $7,000 in connection with his alleged losses. STANFORD received these benefits during the period between 2005 and 2012. In addition to his application for benefits with the VA, STANFORD also applied for and obtained disability benefits with the United States Social Security Administration (SSA). In total, STANFORD collected $521,003.07 from the VA, and another $7,575.30 from the VA.
Although STANFORD collected monthly compensation payments and other benefits from the VA and the SSA under the pretense of a complete loss of use of his upper and lower extremities, STANFORD could, in fact, use his upper and lower extremities. STANFORD did not require assistance to feed himself, dress himself, bathe himself, or to use the toilet as claimed. STANFORD was not wheelchair bound, and in fact, could walk and drive a car. STANFORD also had the ability to pick up and carry objects, and to carry on meaningful physical labor. During the course of the scheme, STANFORD even took a trip to Disney World without the aid of a cane, walker, or wheelchair.
On March 16, 2011, STANFORD presented to a VA physician for a continuing evaluation of his physical condition. During the evaluation STANFORD falsely represented that he required help from another person for feeding, bathing, and use of the toilet. Additionally, on October 4, 2011, in Fayetteville, North Carolina, STANFORD presented himself before representatives of the SSA for a continuing disability review. During the course of the review, STANFORD falsely represented that he could not dress, bathe, take medicine, prepare meals, do chores, shop, walk, stand, or lift objects over two pounds, without assistance from another person. STANFORD subsequently admitted to these falsehoods and indicated that he exaggerated his conditions in connection with both reviews because if he had told the truth then his benefits would have been terminated.
In total, STANFORD improperly collected $521,003.07 from the VA, and another $7,575.30 from the VA. At sentencing, the court ordered STANFORD to repay the stolen funds as restitution. STANFORD’s future VA benefits have been garnished.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General, and the Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney William M. Gilmore represented the United States.